Background: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease with overexpression of several receptors, such as human epidermal receptor 2 (HER2), which is a prognostic and predictive biomarker for treatment with the anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody trastuzumab. This study aimed to test the contribution of this regimen in patients with overexpression/amplification of HER2 for periods shorter than the 1-year treatment recommendation.
Methods: A retrospective single-centre study involving 155 patients with non-metastatic (stages I–III) invasive ductal HER2+ breast carcinoma, with a median follow-up of 48.9 months after completion of adjuvant therapy, except endocrine therapy.
Results: About 60% of patients received trastuzumab therapy for a median time of 365 days. Although the use of trastuzumab for a short period has provided some benefit, analyses of survival with a continuous dependent variable have revealed a minimum time for improved survival. In the multivariate analysis by Cox regression, trastuzumab use duration exceeding 9 weeks resulted in protection against distant metastasis (adjusted HR: 0.307 (0.139–0.678), p = 0.004), disease progression (adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 0.353 (0.175–0.714), p = 0.004) and death (adjusted HR: 0.267 (0.105–0.678), p = 0.005), being superior to multimodal systemic therapy with chemotherapy and to endocrine therapy without trastuzumab, but inferior to almost 1 year of administration of this monoclonal antibody, especially regarding overall survival (adjusted HR: 0.203 (0.069–0.596), p = 0.004).
Conclusion: Despite showing some benefits, the protective effect derived from a suboptimal time of trastuzumab exposure is inferior to the standard course of 1 year.