4 August 2007: Chemotherapy – Update on Lapatinib

Dr. Daniel Chua, Professor of Oncology, talked about Lapatinib, the new technique for treating breast cancer.

According to Dr. Chua, with the aging population in Hong Kong, there are 20,000 new cancer cases each year. 1 in 4 men and 1 in 6 women will develop cancer in their life time. There is a tendency for this number to increase.

Breast cancer tops the chart for the top ten cancer among Hong Kong females, followed by colon and lung cancers. It ranks behind lung cancer in terms of mortality rate. The most important thing is early treatment.


Self Photos / Files - 01s     Self Photos / Files - 02s

Lapatinib - A new targeted Anti Cancer Treatment

According to Dr. Chua, traditional cancer treatments are surgery, radiation, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy and molecular target treatment. Lapatinib is a treatment which targets a single cell mutation. A lot of tumors including breast tumors have cellular epidermal factors which control the growth of cells. Hyperactive cellular epidermal factors will lead to cancerous growth.

For the last 5 years, clinical research on Lapatinib were mainly carried out overseas. The early stage of the research concentrates on the side effects of the drug. Up to December 2006, more than 4,300 patients were put on Lapatinib trial usage. The results showed that side effects were minimal, with less than 20 people died as a direct result of the clinical trial.

The following are some of the most common side effects of Lapatinib :

  • Diarrhea
  • Bad appetite
  • nausea
  • Vomit
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Elevation of bilirubin level
  • Heart failure

Minimal Side Effects

A clinical trial on Lapatinib was carried out at Queen Mary Hospital in January 2007. 15 patients participated in the 7-month trial, the average age being 52. All were HER-2 IHC 3 or FISH and are late stage breast cancer patients. At the time, they were receiving Taxane, Anthracycline and Herceptin treatments. All had normal heart functions.

After one week of Lapatinib treatment, initial results showed no serious side effects. Normal side effects include diarrhea, hand-foot syndrome, rash, stomatitis, vomit and fatigue. 10 patients developed stable conditions, 3 showed symptoms of partial mammary gland shrinkage, only 2 showed worsening conditions.

Dr. Chua concluded that Lapatinib still needs further development and research. Initial results showed that it is most suitable for HER-2+ breast cancer patients who do not respond to Trastuzumab. If use in conjunction with Capecitabine, treatment will be more effective.

Speaker’s Profile:

  • Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology, University of Hong Kong
  • Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology, Queen Mary Hospital
  • Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital
  • Director, Cancer Education & Research Centre, University of Hong Kong & Princess Margaret Hospital