Soft chemotherapy 'effective in older breast cancer patients'

A combination of ‘soft’ chemotherapy with antiHER2 therapy has been found to be highly active and present low toxicity for older patients with HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer.

According to the scientists who made the discovery, this is important in a frail population.

Professor Hans Wildiers, medical oncologist from the University Hospital Leuven, Belgium, and international colleagues randomised 80 patients to either the targeted therapies trastumuzab and pertuzumab (TP) or to TP plus metronomic oral cyclophosphamide (TPM).

The patients were aged 70 and over, or, if they were non-fit in other respects than their cancer, 60 and over.

Prof Wildiers said: “We know that the chemotherapy agent docetaxel combined with TP is effective in younger patients with HER2 positive metastatic breast cancer, but docetaxel is 'classical' chemotherapy that can be significantly toxic and thus affect quality of life (QoL), especially in older women.”

The researchers found that the TPM regime gave women seven months longer progression free survival compared with TP alone.