The study, published in the journal Lancet Oncology, counted on the collaboration of the University of Padua and demonstrates the capacity of an early diagnosis of this new tool, with the name HERD2DX, tested with data from 702 patients with newly diagnosed HER2 + breast cancer.
The investigation was coordinated by Prof. Dr. Aleix Prat, head of the Medical Oncology Service of that hospital and professor at the University of Barcelona, as well as by the professor of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology at the University of Padua and researcher at the Istituto Oncologico Veneto (IOV), Prof. Doctor Pierfranco Conte.
HER2 + breast cancer is responsible for 20% of breast tumors and, when the disease is at an early stage, local treatment, chemotherapy and anti-HER2 treatment with trastuzumab for one year have shown great benefits for the survival rate long-term. However, between 20 and 30% of patients end up presenting the disease at an advanced stage.
In recent years, new therapeutic strategies have been incorporated to combat the disease at an early stage, such as new anti-HER2 drugs pertuzumab, T-DM1 and neratinib.
“There are patients who are cured with standard chemotherapy and trastuzumab treatment, and do not need additional treatment. There are also those who need additional treatments because they have a high risk of developing advanced disease in the coming years, but unfortunately we do not have the tools to know who is who at the time of diagnosis, so we are overtreating and ‘undertreating’ many patients ”, explained Prof. Doctor Aleix Prat.
Over the past five years, research has focused on the biological heterogeneity of the HER2 + disease, identifying several molecular groups with different sensitivities to treatments.
The new biomarker combines 17 clinical, pathological and genomic variables, with which it predicts the prognosis of patients with HER2 + breast cancer at an early stage.
“The question we were asking ourselves was how could we use all this knowledge to impact clinical practice. By integrating various data from 702 patients followed for many years, we now have an innovative tool that predicts survival and allows individual treatment to be provided for each patient ”, he added.
In the tests carried out, the researchers demonstrated that the biomarker has the ability to identify a significant proportion of users with HER2 + disease at an early stage who do not need additional therapies beyond the standard treatment, and a group of patients at high risk of developing a recurrence and that requires more treatments than normal.
Experts are now looking to see if the biomarker also helps to decrease the standard treatment and whether it is capable of shortening the duration of trastuzumab or the amount of chemotherapy needed, or even identifying users who will not need chemotherapy.
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