Author(s): Lin NU, Winer EP
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Abstract Between 100,000 and 170,000 patients with cancer develop central nervous system (CNS) metastases each year in the U.S., of which approximately 20\% carry a primary diagnosis of breast cancer. As a consequence of improvements in systemic therapy, which have allowed patients to live longer with advanced cancer, CNS metastases are emerging as an important sanctuary site, and the incidence may be increasing in patients with particular tumor subtypes. Unless there are improvements in the treatment of CNS disease, a growing proportion of patients may be at risk of experiencing both morbidity and mortality as a result of uncontrolled CNS progression, often at a time when their extra-CNS disease is apparently under control. This article reviews changes in the epidemiology and natural history of women with brain metastases from HER2-positive breast cancer over the last decade and presents the therapeutic challenges and opportunities that have arisen in this setting. First, the apparent increase in CNS disease among women with HER2-positive breast cancer, relative to historical controls, is discussed, followed by consideration of potential causes of this observation. Next, the implications of CNS disease, in terms of prognosis and the potential development of preventive strategies are considered. Finally, new developments in systemic approaches to the treatment of CNS disease, including cytotoxic chemotherapy and targeted therapy, are explored.
This article was published in Clin Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Biomolecular Research & Therapeutics