Can Women With HER2-Positive Metastatic Breast Cancer Be Cured?

  • Farnaz Haji
    David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, CA
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  • Sara A. Hurvitz
    Address for correspondence: Sara A. Hurvitz MD, FACP, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center 10945 Le Conte Avenue, PVUB suite 3360, Los Angeles, CA 90095
    David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Santa Monica, CA
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      Breast cancer that is characterized by amplification or over expression of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) accounts for 15% to 20% of all forms of the disease. Although HER2 amplification has been associated with aggressive disease behavior and poor prognosis, the development and availability of a number of HER2-targeted agents has led to improved outcomes for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, with data suggesting that overall survival has substantially improved in the past 2 decades. An increasing proportion of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer is diagnosed as de novo stage IV disease. Patients with de novo metastases are traditionally classified in the general category of metastatic breast cancer and not analyzed as a distinct subgroup, though response to therapy and disease outcomes may differ from that of disease that recurred after early stage disease. Among patients with HER2+ de novo metastatic breast cancer, those who achieve a complete response have a prolonged progression‐free survival and overall survival. Moreover, the fact that some patients achieve a prolonged durable response has raised interest and renewed discussion about whether cure is feasible in the complex context of metastatic breast cancer. In this review, available data associated with the possibility of cure in the population of patients with HER2+ de novo metastatic breast cancer are presented and discussed in detail.


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