ALTTO Trial Seeks to Define Best Therapy for HER2 Breast Cancer
A major clinical trial to determine the best treatment for early-stage breast cancer testing positive for the HER2 protein is now enrolling women in North America, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and NCI announced last week at the NCI Science Writers' Seminar in New York City. The international trial, known as the Adjuvant Lapatinib and/or Trastuzumab Treatment Optimisation (ALTTO) study, will recruit 8,000 women with HER2-positive breast cancer in 50 countries across 6 continents and may set the standard of care for women with this aggressive type of breast cancer.
About 20 to 25 percent of breast cancers are studded with the HER2 protein, also known as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. HER2 is involved in transmitting growth signals from external growth factors to a cell's nucleus. In some types of cancer, this growth signaling pathway leads to increased tumor cell proliferation, suppression of programmed cell death (apoptosis), enhanced motility, and increased tumor angiogenesis. HER2-positive breast cancer tends to be more aggressive, less responsive to standard treatments, and more likely to recur than breast cancer that does not contain HER2. Read more
Cancer Risk Persists After Ending Hormone Therapy
The increased risk of breast cancer associated with combination hormone therapy (estrogen plus progestin) may not go away once the hormones are stopped. More than two years after discontinuing hormones, women who had used the treatment for 5 years still had a higher risk of breast cancer than women who never used the hormones, according to an update from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI).
The results, in the March 5 Journal of the American Medical Association, confirm the main finding of the WHI's estrogen-plus-progestin trial - that the health risks of this treatment for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes outweigh the benefits. The trial was halted in 2002 largely because women using hormones had an increased risk of breast cancer and experienced no clear health benefits. (A WHI trial of estrogen-alone ther-apy did not show increased cancer risks.)Read more