Role of lapatinib in the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer
Catherine Oakman, Marta Pestrin, Elena Zafarana, Egidia Cantisani, Angelo Di Leo
“Sandro Pitigliani” Medical Oncology Unit, Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscano Tumori, Piazza Ospedale 2, 59100, Prato, Italy
Abstract: Lapatinib is a dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ErbB1) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/ErbB2). EGFR and HER2 overexpression is associated with aggressive breast cancer with a high risk of disease relapse and death. Although lapatinib targets both EGFR and HER2, its effects on HER2 appear to be more critical. The role of lapatinib in the first-line setting remains unclear. A phase II first-line monotherapy lapatinib trial in HER2-therapy-naïve metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients confirms efficacy in HER2-positive tumors. Retrospective analysis of a phase III, first-line MBC study confirmed incremental benefit from lapatinib and paclitaxel over paclitaxel alone in HER2-positive disease. A prospective phase III study confirms superiority of letrozole and lapatinib over letrozole alone in HER2-positive MBC. Further investigation is required to define the potential first-line role for lapatinib. Particular strengths appear to be its manageable toxicity profile, lack of cross resistance with trastuzumab, activity in central nervous system disease, and synergy in combination with other anticancer therapy. Current limitations are lack of dosing recommendations from early trials, lack of predictive biomarkers beyond HER2 status, and lack of large prospective phase III trials for HER2-positive disease in the first-line setting. The role of lapatinib in HER2-negative disease is unclear.
Keywords: lapatinib, HER2, metastatic, first-line
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