A Study of AC Followed by a Combination of Paclitaxel Plus Trastuzumab or Lapatinib or Both Given Before Surgery to Patients With Operable HER2 Positive Invasive Breast Cancer

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Basic Trial Information

PhaseTypeStatusAgeSponsorProtocol IDs
Phase IIIBiomarker/Laboratory analysis, TreatmentClosed18 and overOtherNSABP B-41

Trial Description


The primary purpose of this study is to determine whether breast cancer tumors respond (as measured by pathologic complete response: the absence of microscopic evidence of invasive tumor cells in the breast) to combined chemotherapy of AC(doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) followed by paclitaxel plus trastuzumab or lapatinib or both given before surgery to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. Trastuzumab will also be given to all patients after surgery. The study will also evaluate the toxic effects of the chemotherapy combination, including effects on the heart, and will determine survival and progression-free survival 5 years after treatment. Also, the study will look at whether there are gene expression profiles in the tumor tissue that can predict pathologic complete response.

Further Study Information

Women with breast cancers that overexpress HER2 are at greater risk for disease progression and death than women whose tumors do not overexpress HER2. Trastuzumab, a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody against the extracellular domain of the HER2 protein blocks downstream signaling of HER2 and substantially improves the efficacy of chemotherapy in women with metastatic and early-stage HER2-positive breast cancers. Because resistance to trastuzumab eventually results in progressive disease in the metastatic setting and contributes to recurrence following adjuvant trastuzumab-based therapy, it is important to develop agents other than trastuzumab that target HER2 signaling through different mechanisms of action. Lapatinib is an oral, small molecule, dual tyrosine kinase inhibitor of HER2 and EGFR. Lapatinib has shown a lack of cross-resistance with trastuzumab in preclinical studies and activity in women with HER2-positive, metastatic breast cancer that has progressed during trastuzumab treatment. Trastuzumab blocks the downstream signaling of HER2 by binding to the extracellular domain of the receptor. Lapatinib binds to the intracellular domains of HER2 and EGFR and prevents activation of downstream signaling pathways. Because of this different mechanism of action, lapatinib may be effective in trastuzumab-resistant disease. The study will also provide important safety information on trastuzumab and lapatinib combinations immediately following anthracycline exposure, and also provide an initial direct comparison of cardiac effects of trastuzumab and lapatinib when incorporated into a standard sequential AC followed by weekly paclitaxel (neo)adjuvant regimen.

Availability of a second agent that can interrupt HER2-signaling pathways through completely different mechanisms than those of trastuzumab offers the potential for further improvement in the management of patients with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer in both the adjuvant and metastatic setting. Co-administration of both trastuzumab and lapatinib with chemotherapy may be important in improving outcomes in subsets of HER2-positive breast cancers. However, use of two inhibitors of the HER2 pathway will increase costs and may increase toxicity, so it will be important to identify the subsets of patients who would benefit from the dual therapy. Inhibition of HER2 with a single agent clearly is sufficient for many patients as evidenced by the results of the trastuzumab trials. Therefore, co-administration to unselected populations of women with HER2-positive breast cancers would not represent an optimal approach. Given the activity of lapatinib, it is likely that it will also be sufficiently active in inhibiting HER2-pathway activation in some patients to allow for its use as the sole inhibitor of the HER2 pathway. Different populations may also derive greater benefit from one of the HER2-blocking agents relative to the other. Identification of potential predictive factors for pathologic complete response to the combination or to either agent administered alone in neoadjuvant trials would provide important information for adjuvant trials designed to definitively address these important issues.

This study will compare 3 combined chemotherapy regimens: AC followed by paclitaxel plus trastuzumab and lapatinib, AC followed by paclitaxel plus lapatinib, and AC followed by paclitaxel plus trastuzumab given before surgery to patients with HER2-positive breast cancer.

Eligibility Criteria

Inclusion criteria:

  • Female
  • 18 years or older
  • ECOG performance status of 0 or 1
  • Primary breast tumor palpable and measures greater than or equal to 2.0 cm by physical exam
  • Diagnosis of invasive adenocarcinoma made by core needle biopsy
  • Breast cancer determined to be HER2-positive
  • LVEF assessment by MUGA scan or ECG within 3 months prior to randomization
  • Blood counts must meet the following criteria:
  • ANC greater than or equal to 1200/mm3
  • Platelet count greater than or equal to 100,000/mm3
  • Hemoglobin greater than or equal to 10 g/dL
  • Serum creatinine less than or equal to ULN for the lab
  • Adequate hepatic function by these criteria:
  • Total bilirubin less than or equal to the ULN for the lab unless the patient has a bilirubin elevation greater than ULN to 1.5 x ULN resulting from Gilbert's disease or similar syndrome due to slow conjugation of bilirubin; and
  • Alkaline phosphatase less than or equal to 2.5 x ULN; and
  • AST less than or equal to 1.5 x ULN for the lab.
  • If skeletal pain present or alkaline phosphatase greater than ULN (but less than or equal to 2.5 x ULN), bone scan or PET scan must not demonstrate metastatic disease
  • If AST or alkaline phosphatase greater than ULN , liver imaging (CT, MRI or PET scan) must not demonstrate definitive metastatic disease and the requirements in criterion for hepatic function must be met
  • Able to swallow oral medications

Exclusion criteria:

  • FNA alone to diagnose the primary tumor
  • Excisional biopsy or lumpectomy was performed prior to randomization
  • Surgical axillary staging procedure prior to randomization. Exceptions: 1) FNA or core biopsy of an axillary node for any patient, and 2) although not recommended, a pre-neoadjuvant therapy SN biopsy for patients with clinically negative axillary nodes.
  • Tumors clinically staged as T4
  • Ipsilateral cN2b or cN3 disease (Patients with cN1 or cN2a disease are eligible)
  • Definitive clinical or radiologic evidence of metastatic disease
  • Synchronous bilateral invasive breast cancer
  • Requirement for chronic use of any of the medications or substances specified in the protocol
  • Treatment including RT, chemotherapy, and/or targeted therapy for the currently diagnosed breast cancer prior to randomization
  • Any sex hormonal therapy, e.g., birth control pills, ovarian hormone replacement therapy, etc. (These patients are eligible if therapy is discontinued prior to randomization)
  • Continued therapy with any hormonal agent such as raloxifene, tamoxifen, or other SERM. (Patients are eligible only if these medications are discontinued prior to randomization)
  • Prior history of breast cancer, including DCIS (Patients with a history of LCIS are eligible)
  • Prior therapy with anthracyclines, taxanes, trastuzumab, or lapatinib for any malignancy
  • Other malignancies unless the patient is considered to be disease-free for 5 or more years prior to randomization and is deemed by her physician to be at low risk for recurrence. Patients with the following cancers are eligible if diagnosed and treated within the past 5 years: carcinoma in situ of the cervix, carcinoma in situ of the colon, melanoma in situ, and basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin.
  • Cardiac disease that would preclude the use of the drugs included in the B-41 treatment regimens. This includes but is not confined to:
  • Active cardiac disease:
  • angina pectoris requiring the use of anti-anginal medication;
  • ventricular arrhythmias except for benign premature ventricular contractions controlled by medication;
  • conduction abnormality requiring a pacemaker;
  • supraventricular and nodal arrhythmias requiring a pacemaker or not controlled with medication; and
  • clinically significant valvular disease.
  • History of cardiac disease:
  • myocardial infarction;
  • congestive heart failure; or
  • cardiomyopathy.
  • Uncontrolled hypertension, defined as blood pressure greater than 150/90 mm/Hg on antihypertensive therapy
  • History of or current symptomatic interstitial pneumonitis or pulmonary fibrosis or definitive evidence of interstitial pneumonitis or pulmonary fibrosis described on CT or chest x-ray in asymptomatic patients
  • Sensory/motor neuropathy greater than or equal to grade 2, as defined by the NCI's CTCAE v3.0
  • Malabsorption syndrome, ulcerative colitis, resection of the stomach or small bowel, or other disease significantly affecting gastrointestinal function
  • Other non-malignant systemic disease that would preclude treatment with any of the treatment regimens or would prevent required follow-up
  • Conditions that would prohibit administration of corticosteroids
  • Administration of any investigational agents within 30 days before randomization
  • Pregnancy or lactation

Trial Contact Information

Trial Lead Organizations/Sponsors

National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project

  • GlaxoSmithkline
Norman Wolmark, Principal Investigator

Link to the current ClinicalTrials.gov record.
NLM Identifier NCT00486668
ClinicalTrials.gov processed this data on April 09, 2015

Note: Information about this trial is from the ClinicalTrials.gov database. The versions designated for health professionals and patients contain the same text. Minor changes may be made to the ClinicalTrials.gov record to standardize the names of study sponsors, sites, and contacts. Cancer.gov only lists sites that are recruiting patients for active trials, whereas ClinicalTrials.gov lists all sites for all trials. Questions and comments regarding the presented information should be directed to ClinicalTrials.gov.