Metastatic Breast Cancer: Enhertu Stops the Spread


PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime – the second leading cause of cancer death for women, behind lung cancer – but after years of clinical trials, the FDA recently approved an exciting new targeted therapy for women with metastatic HER2 low cancer.

Two-hundred sixty-four thousand women will get a breast cancer diagnosis this year. Fifty to 60 percent will have a type of cancer called HER2 low, that means the tumors have low levels of the HER2 protein on the surface of the cancer cell. Now, the FDA has approved a treatment called Enhertu for metastatic HER2 low breast cancers that cannot be surgically removed.

Medical oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Dr. Adam Brufsky, MD, PhD, explains, “This actually attaches a little bit of chemotherapy to it and makes it superior to a lot of other things we’ve had before.”

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For women whose breast cancer had not spread, the standard treatment was chemotherapy. But for metastatic HER2 low cancer, there were few additional options, until clinical trials showed Enhertu kept the cancer at bay better than other treatments.

“A therapy that basically, at least doubles the amount of time that women can live with their disease without the cancer progressing,” Dr. Brufsky adds.

Enhertu is delivered as an IV drip once every three weeks.

Dr. Brufsky mentions, “It improves our overall survival, even if they’ve had multiple other therapies in the past. I think it’s something, really that 75 to 80% of our women with metastatic breast cancer can now get.”

Doctors say patients with other types of cancer that are HER2 low may also benefit from Enhertu, including patients with gastric, lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancer. Enhertu is already FDA-approved for some patients with advanced gastric cancer and is being tested for its benefits in other tumor types.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5141

BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is the most commonly detected cancer in women in America, besides skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates i287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer, 51,400 new cases of ductal carcinoma in stiu, and 43,250 deaths this year. Breast cancer is most common in middle aged women. The average chances of a women developing breast cancer in her lifetime is thirteen percent. Breast cancer death rates have decreased in older women by one percent between 2013 to 2018 due to earlier screenings and newly developed treatment options.


DIAGNOSING: Symptoms of breast cancer include swelling in the breasts, skin dimpling, breast pain, nipple retraction, nipple discharge, and swollen lymph nodes near the collar bone. Diagnosis of breast cancer will include a grade. The cells are given a grade when they are checked in the lab and are determined by how much the cancer cells looks compared to normal cells. This grade is assigned to determine which treatment options are the best fit and to help declare possible outcomes. Treatments for breast cancer include surgery and radiation. Systemic treatments for breast cancer include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted drug therapy, and immunotherapy.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved an Enhertu IV infusion for people diagnosed with unresectable or metastatic HER2-low breast cancer. This new approval is the first approved targeted therapy for patients with HER2-low breast cancer, a new subtype of HER2-negative. This new targeted therapy can double the amount of expected time for the patient and stops the cancer from progression. A growing number of drugs are being developed that are targeting the HER2 protein.



Cyndy Patton

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Adam Brufsky, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program

Read the entire Q&A