Editorials

Adjuvant trastuzumab for breast cancer

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7524.1035 (Published 03 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1035
  1. Rebecca Dent, medical oncology fellow,
  2. Mark Clemons (mark.clemons@sw.ca), medical oncologist
  1. Division of Medical Oncology, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto ON, Canada M4N 3M5
  2. Division of Medical Oncology, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto ON, Canada M4N 3M5

    We need to ensure that equity exists for access to effective and expensive treatments

    In an era when encouraging headlines for the treatment of cancer seem to come and go, the results of randomised trials of adjuvant trastuzumab for treating breast cancers that overexpress human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) have been rightly viewed as “stunning.”1 The implications are relevant not only to patients with respect to significantly reducing the risk of cancer recurrence and death but also to all involved in the delivery of health care. We need to ensure that the process for funding of these highly effective treatments remains equitable not only between patients with different types of cancer but also between patients in different countries.

    HER2 normally helps in the regulation of cell proliferation. Amplification of the HER2/neu oncogene occurs in 25-30% of human primary breast cancers and portends a poorer prognosis.2 Trastuzumab is a recombinant humanised monoclonal antibody directed against HER2. The success of trastuzumab is an example of true …

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