Table of Contents
Chemotherapy Research and Practice
Volume 2012, Article ID 743193, 7 pages
Review Article

The HER2 Receptor in Breast Cancer: Pathophysiology, Clinical Use, and New Advances in Therapy

1Department of Internal Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
2Department of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
3Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA

Received 10 June 2012; Accepted 26 November 2012

Academic Editor: Nabil F. Saba

Copyright © 2012 Zahi Mitri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is overexpressed in around 20–30% of breast cancer tumors. It is associated with a more aggressive disease, higher recurrence rate, and increased mortality. Trastuzumab is a HER2 receptor blocker that has become the standard of care for the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer. The effectiveness of Trastuzumab has been well validated in research as well as in clinical practice. The addition of Trastuzumab to standard of care chemotherapy in clinical trials has been shown to improve outcomes for early stage as well as metastatic HER2 positive breast cancer. The most clinically significant side effect of Trastuzumab is the risk of cardiac myocyte injury, leading to the development of congestive heart failure. The emergence of patterns of resistance to Trastuzumab has led to the discovery of new monoclonal antibodies and other targeted agents aimed at overcoming Trastuzumab resistance and improving survival in patients diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancers.