Patients treated with trastuzumab for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (HER2+MBC) are living longer, but there is little information on their outcomes and treatment experience beyond the median survival from clinical trials and real-world observational studies. We aim to describe the real-world treatment patterns and overall survival (OS) for women surviving five or more years from initiation of trastuzumab for HER2+MBC.
This is a retrospective, whole-of-population cohort study of women initiating trastuzumab for HER2+MBC between 2001 and 2011, followed to 2016. We defined long-term survivors (LTS) as those patients surviving ≥ 5 years from trastuzumab initiation. We used dispensing claims to describe timing of cancer treatments used by LTS and to estimate time on and off HER2-targeted therapies, and OS from trastuzumab initiation for HER2+MBC.
Of 4177 women initiating trastuzumab for HER2+MBC, 1082 (26%) survived ≥ 5 years. Median age for LTS was 54 years (IQR 46-63). At a median follow-up of 9.4 years, 36% of LTS died; their conditional probability of surviving an additional 5 years was 55%. Median time on trastuzumab and all HER2-targeted therapy was 58.9 months (27.6-88.1) and 69.1 months (35.6-124.5), respectively. 85% of LTS had a period off HER2 therapy, lasting a median of 30.4 months (8.2-NR).
LTS generally receive HER2-targeted therapies for periods of time longer than in clinical trials, but most LTS also had breaks in treatment. More research is needed to understand the effects of long-term treatment and to identify patients who may be able to safely discontinue HER2-targeted therapy.