We evaluated the efficacy and safety of weekly paclitaxel plus trastuzumab as first-line chemotherapy in women with HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer (MBC), and we investigated the prognostic factors including magnitude of HER2/neu amplification in this population. We analyzed 54 patients with HER2-overexpressing MBC that were treated with weekly paclitaxel plus trastuzumab as first-line chemotherapy from February 2004 to December 2006. At a median follow-up of 28 months, median time to progression (TTP) was 16.6 months (95% CI, 9.4 to 23.7 months) and median overall survival was 25.6 months (95% CI, 21.8 to 27.3 months). Therapy was generally well tolerated, although three patients (5.5%) experienced reversible, symptomatic heart failure. Of the 27 patients evaluable for the HER2 FISH, patients with a HER2/CEP17 ratio of < or =4.0 had significantly shorter TTP than those with a HER2/CEP17 ratio of >4.0 (10.8 vs. 23.2 months, P=0.034). A HER2/CEP17 ratio of >4.0 was identified as significant predictive factor of TTP by multivariate analysis (P=0.032). The combination of weekly paclitaxel plus trastuzumab as first-line chemotherapy is an effective regimen in patients with HER2-FISH-positive MBC. Furthermore, the magnitude of HER2 amplification is an independent predictive factor of TTP.
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