Perjeta Approved for Neoadjuvant Therapy in Breast Cancer

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved Perjeta for the neoadjuvant (prior to surgery) treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer. Perjeta was previously approved for the treatment of HER2-positive cancer following surgery.

Approximately one-quarter of all breast cancers are considered to be HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor-2)-positive. The HER2 pathway in a cell is a biologic pathway that is involved in cellular growth and/or replication. HER2-positive breast cancer refers to a type of cancer that has abnormalities within the HER2 pathway of the cells. Often, HER2-positive breast cancer cells express excessive amounts of proteins on the surface of the cell that are involved in the pathway, ultimately leading to excessive replication and growth of the cancer cells.

The FDA has approved agents targeted against the HER2 proteins on the surface of HER2-positive cancer cells. These agents bind to the HER2 protein and aid in reducing or slowing the excessive replication and growth of the cells.

Perjecta (pertuzumab) is targeted therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer patients. It was recently approved by the FDA for treatment of neoadjuvant therapy for HER2-breast cancer patients.

Some patients receive neoadjuvant therapy to kill cancer cells at the site of origin, as well as any potential circulating cancer cells, prior to surgery. This may be beneficial in a few ways – 1) the site of cancer to be surgically removed is reduced in size so that removal of all the cancer is more easily achieved, 2) cancer cells that may have spread from the site of origin but remain undetectable can be killed by chemotherapy prior to surgery 3) less disfigurement may occur during surgery as the site for removal has been reduced in size.

Patients with HER2-positive breast cancer interested in Perjecta for neoadjuvant therapy may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of all available treatment options.

Reference: United States Food and Drug Administration. Drugs @ FDA: FDA Approved Drug Products. Available at: Accessed September 30, 2013.