Year's worth of herceptin worth the cost, study suggests

  • 09/12/2017
A woman getting a mammogram.
A woman getting a mammogram. Photo credit: Getty

A new study has vindicated the controversial decision for breast cancer patients to receive 12 months of the drug herceptin, the Breast Cancer Foundation says.

New Zealand patients were among 2100 who took part in an international study, which has showed 12 months on the drug for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer is the better choice.

The study saw patients receive either nine weeks of concurrent herceptin and chemotherapy, or nine weeks of concurrent treatment plus additional herceptin extended out to 12 months.

The results were presented at the world's biggest breast cancer conference, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on Friday, with researchers announcing a statistically significantly improved disease-free survival (DFS) for patients who had 12 months of herceptin.

For patients in the 12 month arm DFS was 90.5 percent, compared with 88 percent in the nine-week arm.

There were smaller differences in five-year overall survival, with 94.7 percent in the nine-week arm and 95.9 percent in the 12-month arm.

"It's fantastic to have the reassurance that we're on the right track here in New Zealand with our 12 month treatment standard," Breast Cancer Foundation NZ chief executive Evangelia Henderson says.

The 12-month regimen became standard of care after the National Party made it a campaign pledge in the 2008 election.

Before that, women received only nine weeks, a duration that studies had showed to be effective for many people.