Real-Life Use and Effectiveness of Adjuvant Trastuzumab in Early Breast Cancer Patients: A Study of the Southeast Netherlands Breast Cancer Consortium

S.C. Seferina, D.J.A. Lobbezoo, M. de Boer, M.W. Dercksen, F. van den Berkmortel, R.J.W. van Kampen, A.J. van de Wouw, B. de Vries, M.A. Joore, P.G.M. Peer, A.C. Voogd, V.C.G. Tjan-Heijnen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. The impact of drug prescriptions in real life as opposed to strict clinical trial prescription is only rarely assessed, although it is well recognized that incorrect use may harm patients and may have a significant impact on health care resources. We investigated the use and effectiveness of adjuvant trastuzumab in daily practice compared with the effectiveness in clinical trials.

Methods. We included all patients with stage I-III invasive breast cancer, irrespective of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status, diagnosed in five hospitals in the southeast of The Netherlands in 2005-2007. We aimed to assess the actual use of adjuvant trastuzumab in early HER2-positive breast and its efficacy in daily practice.

Results. Of 2,684 patients included, 476 (17.7%) had a HER2-positive tumor. Of these, 251 (52.7%) patients had an indication for trastuzumab treatment of which 196 (78.1%) patients actually received it. Of the 225 patients without an indication, 34 (15.1%) received trastuzumab. Five-year disease-free survival was 80.7% for (n=230) patients treated with versus 68.2% for (n = 246) patients not treated with trastuzumab (p = .0023), and 5-year overall survival rates were 90.7% and 77.4%, respectively (p = .0002). The hazard ratio for disease recurrence was 0.63 (95% confidence interval, 0.37-1.06) for trastuzumab when adjusting for potential confounders.

Conclusion. This study shows that in real life, patients treated with trastuzumab in early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer had a 5-year disease-free and overall survival comparable to prior randomized trials. For informative decision making, real-life data are of additional value, providing insight on outcome of patients considered ineligible for treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-863
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Trastuzumab
  • Effectiveness
  • Early breast cancer
  • Real life

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