NERLYNX: Reducing Recurrence of HER2+ Breast Cancer


LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer is more aggressive, grows faster, and is more likely to return. That’s why women who test positive for HER2 and their doctors are excited about a new drug that could cut the risk of cancer’s return by a third.

Allison Landherr was diagnosed with stage three HER2+ breast cancer when she was 39.

“All of a sudden, you have this cancer diagnosis, and you stop everything and just try to figure out how are you going to survive,” Landherr told Ivanhoe.

She had surgery, chemo, radiation, and a year of Herceptin. She knew cancer returns for up to a quarter of patients after Herceptin. Then, her doctor told her about NERLYNX, a targeted therapy that works inside cancer cells and blocks growth signals from multiple pathways.

Linda D Bosserman, MD, FASCO, Medical Oncologist at City of Hope explained, “It irreversibly inactivates that and then downstream it can’t signal.” (Read Full Interview)

Allison took six pills a day for a year. She also took medicine for diarrhea, the worst side effect.

“Truthfully, life went on as normal throughout the treatment,” Landherr admitted.

Doctor Bosserman says NERLYNX may not make a big difference for women in stage one. But it significantly reduced recurrence for some women with more advanced cancer.

“For women with multiple nodes positive, estrogen positive, their risk can be up in that 30 percent range, and to lower that 34 percent is a profound benefit to women,” Dr. Bosserman stated.

Allison stopped taking NERLYNX eight months ago, is cancer-free and looking ahead.

“I want to see my children thrive and become independent and see what the future holds for them,” Landherr stated.

And she’s looking forward to growing old with her husband.

Doctor Bosserman got Nerlynx for Allison by compassionate use from Puma Biomedical at City of Hope Hospital. The trial had officially ended by the time she needed it. The FDA has since approved the drug.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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BACKGROUND: The HER2 or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is a gene that can play a role in the development of breast cancer. Also referred to as the ERBB2, it makes HER2 proteins. Normally, HER2 receptors help control how healthy breast cells grow, divide, and repair themselves. However in 25 percent of breast cancers, the HER2 gene doesn’t work correctly and makes too many copies; this is referred to as HER2 gene amplification. These extra genes cause the breast cells to make too many HER2 receptors, causing HER2 protein overexpression. This makes breast cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, making HER2-positive breast cancers spread and grow faster with a higher rate of coming back after treatment as compared to HER2-negative breast cancers.

TREATMENT: There are available treatments specifically made for HER2-positive breast cancer. Some include tykerb (chemically named lapatinib), which works against the cancer by blocking certain proteins that cause the uncontrolled cell growth. Perjeta (chemically named pertuzumab) blocks the cancer cells’ ability to receive the growth signals. Herceptin (chemically known as trastuzumab) works against the HER2-positive breast cancers by blocking the ability of the cancer cells to receive chemical signals that tell the cells to grow. And kadcyla (chemically named T-DM1 or ado-trastuzumab emtansine) combines herceptin with chemotherapy medicine; it was designed to deliver emtansine to the cancer cells in a targeted way. It does this by attaching the emtansine to the herceptin, which then carries it to the cancer cells.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Nerlynx is a targeted therapy that works inside the cancer cells and blocks growth signals from multiple pathways. While HER2-positive breast cancer patients usually had a high risk of recurrence after treatment, the clinical trials for Nerlynx found that when patients took Nerlynx after treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer, it reduced the risk of recurrence. The FDA has approved the drug so women can now have it prescribed by their doctors without the additional regulatory processes and paperwork.

(Source: Linda Bosserman,MD, FASCO)

DOCTOR LINDA BOSSERMAN: “Nerlynx reduces the risk of recurrence by 34 percent. For individual patients, the actual improvement will depend on their risk of recurring. Women with small, node negative tumors have 95-98 percent cure rates with standard therapy. Reducing the 2-5 percent recurrence risk by 34 percent means actually helping 1-3 women per 100 who get a year of therapy. Women with higher risk node positive, hormone positive stage 2 and 3 disease where risk of recurrence can be 30 percent means a 34 percent reduction would help about 10 women per 100 treated. Each woman can decide if the actual benefit is worth the time, need for symptom management and any costs against the absolute benefit based on her stage and health.”


Linda Bosserman


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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Linda D Bosserman, MD, FASCO

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