Trial Testing Need for Radiotherapy in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Enrolling Patients

Trial Testing Need for Radiotherapy in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Enrolling Patients
Researchers at The University of Kansas Cancer Center have launched a clinical trial evaluating the need for radiation therapy after surgical removal of an aggressive type of breast cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes. Approximately 1 in 5 patients with breast cancer are positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). HER2-positive is a term used to describe an aggressive type of breast cancer that expresses high levels of this cell-surface protein, leading to increased tumor growth and potential to spread. Standard treatment for HER2-positive breast cancer usually involves sequential chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, surgery to remove it, and radiation therapy to eliminate any potentially remaining cancer cells and prevent relapse. However, the recent addition of revolutionary medicines that target the HER2 protein — such as Herceptin (trastuzumab) — into the chemotherapy plan has reduced the risk of relapse by more than half. These targeted therapies have been found to completely eliminate the tumor in many patients, and according to Melissa Mitchell, MD, PhD, the researcher leading the clinical trial, patients with that kind of strong response to chemotherapy frequently ask why they have to undergo radiotherapy. "The treatment drugs have just become so effective that
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