Dr. Burris on Remaining Challenges in Treating HER2+ Breast Cancer

Howard A. “Skip” Burris, MD
Published: Friday, Oct 07, 2016



Howard A. “Skip” Burris, MD, president of Clinical Operations and chief medical officer at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, a 2014 Giant of Cancer Care in Drug Development, discusses the biggest remaining challenges in treating patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

The treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer has evolved since the early days of Burris' career, he explains. The approvals of agents such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), lapatinib (Tykerb), and pertuzumab (Perjeta) have led researchers to wonder whether this subtype could be defined as a curable malignancy.

However, a troublesome area in HER2-positive breast cancer, Burris says, is the fact that brain metastases frequently develop in patients with advanced disease. Therefore, patients usually receive multiple therapies—most of which do not cross the blood-brain barrier. Because of this, Burris prefers to administer the majority of treatment in the neoadjuvant setting, which can shrink tumor size and target cancer cells in the blood stream and lymph nodes.


Howard A. “Skip” Burris, MD, president of Clinical Operations and chief medical officer at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, a 2014 Giant of Cancer Care in Drug Development, discusses the biggest remaining challenges in treating patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

The treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer has evolved since the early days of Burris' career, he explains. The approvals of agents such as trastuzumab (Herceptin), lapatinib (Tykerb), and pertuzumab (Perjeta) have led researchers to wonder whether this subtype could be defined as a curable malignancy.

However, a troublesome area in HER2-positive breast cancer, Burris says, is the fact that brain metastases frequently develop in patients with advanced disease. Therefore, patients usually receive multiple therapies—most of which do not cross the blood-brain barrier. Because of this, Burris prefers to administer the majority of treatment in the neoadjuvant setting, which can shrink tumor size and target cancer cells in the blood stream and lymph nodes.



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