Women with early breast cancer to be tested for trastuzumab treatmentBMJ 2005; 331 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7521.864 (Published 13 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:864
- Susan Mayor
All women in England with early stage breast cancer are to be tested to see if they could benefit from trastuzumab (Herceptin), and approval for use of the drug by the NHS will be fast tracked once it has been licensed. The government announced these measures last week after a campaign by women demanding prompt access to this treatment.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced that all women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer would be tested for suitability for treatment with trastuzumab. The drug is a monoclonal antibody that binds to the HER2 receptor, a cell surface protein that can be tested for and which is overexpressed in about a fifth of breast cancers. The drug is currently licensed for use only in women with advanced breast cancer who test positive for HER2, but studies reported to the American Society of Clinical Oncology in May this year claimed that it reduced the risk of recurrence in early breast cancer.
In response to Ms Hewitt's announcement, the national cancer director, Mike …
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