Metastatic breast cancer remains a devastating and largely incurable disease. Currently available therapies offer meaningful palliation for many and modest prolongation of survival for some patients. Singleagent hormonal therapy remains the treatment of choice for patients with ER-positive disease, with sequential use of further hormonal agents or cytotoxic chemotherapy at the time of disease progression. Chemotherapy is appropriate as initial therapy for patients with receptor-negative or rapidly progressive visceral disease. Although combination regimens may increase response rates, the lack of survival benefit does not justify the increased toxicity of aggressive combination regimens in most patients. Maintenance chemotherapy deserves consideration in selected well-informed patients, especially those with few therapy-related side effects. High-dose regimens confer substantial toxicity with no cleat therapeutic advantage and cannot be recommended outside of ongoing trials. New chemotherapy agents offer the hope of effective salvage therapy with acceptable toxicity a larger number of patients. Perhaps most promising, the development of targeted, biologically based therapies such as rhuMAbHER2 offers encouragement for the future.
ASJC Scopus subject areas