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Breast Cancer Drug Herceptin Linked to Risk of Heart Problems

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Demetria Ratchford3 years ago

A new study has found that the breast cancer drug Herceptin carries an increased risk of adverse cardiac events.

The Layout of the Herceptin Study

The study was published June 9th, 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology online.

The study was conducted because heart problems have been linked with Herceptin—“congestive heart failure and a decrease in how well the heart can pump blood out of its main pumping chamber, the left ventricle.”

The study was composed of 5,000 women with early stage breast cancer.

The women were split up into three groups with 1,700 women in each.

Women in the first group took trastuzumab for a period of two-years, women in the second group took trastuzumab for a period of one-year, and the final group did not receive treatment with tratuzumab.

Researchers then looked at how often-cardiac problems occurred and if they disappeared after the women had taken the drug for the recommended time period.

The Herceptin Study’s Results

  • 10% of women in the two-year group and 5% of women in the one-year group stopped taking Herceptin because of adverse cardiac problems.
  • In the study, three cardiac deaths occurred in the two-year group, and none in the one-year group.
  • Blood pumping problems occurred in about 7% of the two-year group and 4% in the one-year group.
  • The research group noted that HER2 is linked with the regulation of cell growth and survival in the heart, which could take away heart protective effects.
  • Once women stopped taking the drug, the blood pumping problems resolved in more than 87% of the two-year group and 81% of the one-year group. The study also revealed that the heart problems will not increase with time after using the drug.


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