(HealthDay News) – Everolimus plus exemestane improves progression-free survival (PFS) for postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor (HR)-positive breast cancer; and pertuzumab plus trastuzumab plus docetaxel improves PFS in human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2)-positive metastatic breast cancer, according to two studies published online December 7, 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with presentation at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from December 6 to 10.

José Baselga, MD, PhD (of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston) and colleagues compared the safety and efficacy of everolimus and exemestane with that of placebo and exemestane in 724 postmenopausal women with HR-positive breast cancer, who had recurrence or progression during treatment with nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitors, advanced disease, or both. PFS was the primary end point. The local investigators found that the everolimus plus exemestane and placebo groups had median PFS of 6.9 and 2.8 months, respectively (HR, 0.43), while according to central assessment, median PFS was 10.6 and 4.1 months, respectively (HR, 0.36).

In another study, Baselga and colleagues compared the safety and efficacy of pertuzumab plus trastuzumab and docetaxel (pertuzumab group) with that of placebo plus trastuzumab and docetaxel (control group), as first-line treatment for 808 patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. PFS was the primary end point. The median PFS was 12.4 and 18.5 months in the control and pertuzumab groups, respectively (HR, 0.62).

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“The combination of the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibodies pertuzumab and trastuzumab with docetaxel as first-line therapy prolonged progression-free survival in patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer,” write the authors of the second study.

The first study was funded by Novartis; the second study was funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche and Genentech. Authors from both studies disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies, including those funding the studies.

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