Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium Finds Breast Cancer Driver, HER2, in 3 Percent of Lung Cancers

Paul Bunn Jr., MD, FASCO

The question remains: What would the outcomes have been for these patients if they had gotten HER2-directed therapy?

The Lung Cancer Mutation Consortium at the University of Colorado Cancer Center reports this week in the journal Cancer that 24 of 920 patients (3 percent) with advanced-stage lung cancer had mutations in the gene HER2. Seventy-one percent of these patients were never-smokers, with a median age of 62. The gene HER2 has been known as a breast cancer driver, with therapies approved to target HER2 mutations in this setting. Now ongoing clinical trials are evaluating the use of HER2-directed therapy against lung cancer testing positive for the mutation. By identifying a significant population of HER2+ lung cancer patients, the current study demonstrates the need for these therapies.

“In this study, outcomes for HER2-positive lung cancer patients treated with conventional therapies were similar to outcomes for HER2-negative patients treated in the same way. But the question remains: What would the outcomes have been for these patients if they had gotten HER2-directed therapy?” asks Paul Bunn Jr., MD, FASCO, distinguished professor at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and James Dudley Professor of Lung Cancer Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Early data from this study offers hope. Of the 24 patients identified with HER2 mutation, 12 received HER2-directed therapy and 12 received conventional therapies (e.g. chemotherapy). Median survival for patients receiving HER2-directed therapy was 2.1 years compared with median survival of 1.4 years for those who did not receive HER2-directed therapy.

“These treatments seem to have activity, but there just…

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