An increasing number of tumors, including breast cancer, overexpress proteins of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family. The interaction between family members activates signaling pathways that promote tumor progression and resistance to treatment. Human epidermal growth factor receptor type II (HER2) positive breast cancer represents a clinical challenge for current therapy. It has motivated the development of novel and more effective therapeutic EGFR family target drugs, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). This review focuses on the effects of three TKIs mostly studied in HER2- positive breast cancer, lapatinib, gefitinib and neratinib. Herein, we discuss the mechanism of action, therapeutic advantages and clinical applications of these TKIs. To date, TKIs seem to be promising therapeutic agents for the treatment of HER2-overexpressing breast tumors, either as monotherapy or combined with other pharmacological agents.
Keywords: HER2-positive breast cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor family; gefitinib; lapatinib; neratinib; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.