With increasing survival for patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer in the trastuzumab era, there is an increased risk of brain metastasis. Therefore, there is interest in optimizing intracranial disease control. Lapatinib is a small-molecule dual HER2/epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor that has demonstrated intracranial activity against HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of lapatinib combined with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) on local control of brain metastases.
Patients with HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases who underwent SRS from 1997–2015 were included. The primary outcome was the cumulative incidence of local failure following SRS. Secondary outcomes included the cumulative incidence of radiation necrosis and overall survival.
One hundred twenty-six patients with HER2+ breast cancer who underwent SRS to 479 brain metastases (median 5 lesions per patient) were included. Among these, 75 patients had luminal B subtype (hormone receptor-positive, HER2+) and 51 patients had HER2-enriched histology (hormone receptor-negative, HER2+). Forty-seven patients received lapatinib during the course of their disease, of whom 24 received concurrent lapatinib with SRS. The median radiographic follow-up among all patients was 17.1 months. Concurrent lapatinib was associated with reduction in local failure at 12 months (5.7% vs 15.1%, p < 0.01). For lesions in the ≤ 75th percentile by volume, concurrent lapatinib significantly decreased local failure. However, for lesions in the > 75th percentile (> 1.10 cm3), concurrent lapatinib did not significantly improve local failure. Any use of lapatinib after development of brain metastasis improved median survival compared to SRS without lapatinib (27.3 vs 19.5 months, p = 0.03). The 12-month risk of radiation necrosis was consistently lower in the lapatinib cohort compared to the SRS-alone cohort (1.3% vs 6.3%, p < 0.01), despite extended survival.
For patients with HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases, the use of lapatinib concurrently with SRS improved local control of brain metastases, without an increased rate of radiation necrosis. Concurrent lapatinib best augments the efficacy of SRS for lesions ≤ 1.10 cm3 in volume. In patients who underwent SRS for HER2+ breast cancer brain metastases, the use of lapatinib at any time point in the therapy course was associated with a survival benefit. The use of lapatinib combined with radiosurgery warrants further prospective evaluation.