Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 173, Issue 2, pp 247–254 | Cite as

One year versus a shorter duration of adjuvant trastuzumab for HER2-positive early breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Alessandro Inno
  • Sandro Barni
  • Antonio Ghidini
  • Alberto Zaniboni
  • Fausto PetrelliEmail author



One year is the standard duration of adjuvant trastuzumab for human epidermal receptor-2 (HER2) positive (HER2+) breast cancer (BC). Indeed, a shorter duration of trastuzumab can reduce cardiotoxicity and the costs involved and could provide the same benefit as a one-year treatment. We evaluated the available evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) by comparing 1 year versus a shorter duration of adjuvant trastuzumab for HER2+ BC.

Patients and methods

A systematic search of PubMed, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library and conference proceedings was carried out in order to identify the RCTs that investigated a standard versus a shorter duration of adjuvant trastuzumab in HER2+ BC patients. Using the fixed and random effects models, the pooled hazard ratios (HRs) and risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS) and cardiac events.


Five RCTs with a total of 11,381 patients were included. Overall, one year of adjuvant trastuzumab improved OS (HR 1.22, 95% CI 1.07–1.39; P = 0.003) and DFS (HR 1.19, 95% CI 1.08–1.3; P < 0.001) compared with a shorter duration (6 months and 9 weeks). In the subgroup analysis, there was a trend towards better DFS with the 1-year duration for patients with high-risk features, and also for concomitant administration of chemotherapy and trastuzumab. Cardiac events were significantly lower with a shorter duration (RR 0.4, 95% CI 0.32–0.49; P < 0.001).


One-year adjuvant trastuzumab is associated with better DFS and OS compared with shorter durations and should still be considered the standard duration. However, selected patients with low-risk HER2+ BC can most likely be spared from an excess of cardiac toxicity with a shorter course.


Breast cancer Adjuvant Trastuzumab Duration One year 



None received.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Research involving human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oncology Unit, Cancer Care CenterIRCCS Ospedale Sacro Cuore Don CalabriaNegrar, VeronaItaly
  2. 2.Oncology Unit, Medical Sciences DepartmentASST Bergamo OvestTreviglioItaly
  3. 3.Oncology UnitCasa di Cura IgeaMilanItaly
  4. 4.Oncology UnitCasa di Cura PoliambulanzaBresciaItaly

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