Dr. Tolaney Discusses the Role of Chemotherapy in HER2+ Breast Cancer

Sara M. Tolaney, MD, MPH
Published: Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018



Sara M. Tolaney, MD, MPH, instructor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, attending physician of medical oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the role of chemotherapy in the treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

The question of whether chemotherapy can be reduced as biological therapies come to the forefront is being discussed in the HER2-positive breast cancer space, says Tolaney. The field is heading in that direction, she explains. If a patient is given preoperative taxane with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta) and achieves a pathologic complete response, they may be able to get away with only using biologics from then on out.

More data is needed to get there. T-DM1 (ado-trastuzumab emtansine; Kadcyla) may be able to address some of the needs that chemotherapy fills currently, Tolaney suggests. The KAITLIN trial is currently comparing T-DM1 plus pertuzumab versus docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab, and pertuzumab. Some other trials are pending that may be able to answer the question of chemotherapy’s role, Tolaney concludes.


Sara M. Tolaney, MD, MPH, instructor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, attending physician of medical oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discusses the role of chemotherapy in the treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

The question of whether chemotherapy can be reduced as biological therapies come to the forefront is being discussed in the HER2-positive breast cancer space, says Tolaney. The field is heading in that direction, she explains. If a patient is given preoperative taxane with trastuzumab (Herceptin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta) and achieves a pathologic complete response, they may be able to get away with only using biologics from then on out.

More data is needed to get there. T-DM1 (ado-trastuzumab emtansine; Kadcyla) may be able to address some of the needs that chemotherapy fills currently, Tolaney suggests. The KAITLIN trial is currently comparing T-DM1 plus pertuzumab versus docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab, and pertuzumab. Some other trials are pending that may be able to answer the question of chemotherapy’s role, Tolaney concludes.



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