Herceptin and Gemcitabine for Breast Cancer

Gemcitabine is a very active drug for breast cancer. Since a study demonstrated that Herceptin(trastuzumab) plus Taxol is associated with a clinical benefit that is superior to that of a Taxol alone,  a number of combinations have been studied, including Herceptin with gemcitabine. A 2006 review in “The Oncologist” cites two trials of gemcitabine/trastuzumab as a second-line therapy; in one trial this combination treatment resulted in a response rate of 36 percent, in the other trial a response rate of 38 percent. A  2009 study  in “Clinical Breast Cancer” concluded that gemcitabine/trastuzumab, while effective, appeared to be less effective than trastuzumab in combination with vinorelbine or the taxanes, paclitaxel and docetaxel, which are other drugs commonly used to treat breast cancer. Another study, published in 2008 in “Cancer Chemotherapy Pharmacology,” evaluated gemcitabine/trastuzumab as a “salvage therapy” and found it “safe and potentially effective.”

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