According to the results of a clinical trial presented today (Thursday 10 March) at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam, approximately a quarter of women with HER2 positive breast cancer who were treated with a combination of the targeted drugs lapatinib (Tyverb) and trastuzumab (Herceptin) before surgery saw their tumours rapidly shrink significantly or even disappear, something that could enable these patients to avoid chemotherapy.

Professor Nigel Bundred, from The University of Manchester, presented results from the UK EPHOS-B multi-centre clinical trial, in which 257 women with newly-diagnosed, operable, HER2 positive disease were recruited between November 2010 and September 2015.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

 “We hope this particularly impressive combination trial will serve as a stepping stone to an era of more personalised treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer.

 “Such a rapid response to treatment with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Tyverb (lapatinib) before surgery could soon give doctors the unprecedented ability to identify women responding so well to combined HER2-targeting drugs that they would not need gruelling chemotherapy.

 “To confirm these hopes, we’ll now need to see the results replicated in larger trials and to understand how such a positive response to combined HER2-targeted drugs before surgery – and the avoidance of chemotherapy – could impact on survival.”

More information