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A phase III randomized comparison of lapatinib plus capecitabine versus capecitabine alone in women with advanced breast cancer that has progressed on trastuzumab: updated efficacy and biomarker analyses

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Purpose Lapatinib is a small molecule, dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2). Initial results of a phase III trial demonstrated that lapatinib plus capecitabine is superior to capecitabine alone in women with HER2-positive advanced breast cancer that progressed following prior therapy including trastuzumab. Updated efficacy and initial biomarker results from this trial are reported. Methods Women with HER2-positive, locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer previously treated with anthracycline-, taxane-, and trastuzumab-containing regimens were randomized to lapatinib 1,250 mg/day continuously plus capecitabine 2,000 mg/m2 days 1–14 of a 21-day cycle or capecitabine 2,500 mg/m2 on the same schedule. The primary endpoint was time to progression (TTP) as determined by an independent review panel. Relationship between progression-free survival (PFS) and tumor HER2 expression and serum levels of HER2 extracellular domain (ECD) were assessed. Results 399 women were randomized. The addition of lapatinib prolonged TTP with a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.57 (95% CI, 0.43–0.77; P < 0.001) and provided a trend toward improved overall survival (HR: 0.78, 95% CI: 0.55–1.12, P = 0.177), and fewer cases with CNS involvement at first progression (4 vs. 13, P = 0.045). Baseline serum HER2 ECD did not predict for benefit from lapatinib. Conclusion The addition of lapatinib to capecitabine provides superior efficacy for women with HER2-positive, advanced breast cancer progressing after treatment with anthracycline-, taxane-, and trastuzumab-based therapy. Biomarker studies could not identify a subgroup of patients who failed to benefit from the addition of lapatinib to capecitabine.

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We thank the patients who participated in this study and their families; the medical, nursing and research staff at the study centres; the independent data and safety monitoring committee; the monitors, clinical operations staff, data managers, statisticians, and programmers at GlaxoSmithKline. This study was sponsored and funded by GlaxoSmithKline.

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Correspondence to David Cameron.

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An invited commentary to this article can be found at doi:10.1007/s10549-008-0041-2.

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Cameron, D., Casey, M., Press, M. et al. A phase III randomized comparison of lapatinib plus capecitabine versus capecitabine alone in women with advanced breast cancer that has progressed on trastuzumab: updated efficacy and biomarker analyses. Breast Cancer Res Treat 112, 533–543 (2008).

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