CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Indian J Med Paediatr Oncol 2018; 39(01): 1-3
DOI: 10.4103/ijmpo.ijmpo_12_17
Editorial Commentary

Small HER2 Positive Breast Cancer: When is Enough?

Randeep Singh
Department of Medical Oncology, Artemis Cancer Centre, Gurugram, Maharashtra
Sudeep Gupta
Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
› Author Affiliations
Financial support and sponsorship Nil.

Small node negative HER2 Positive tumors are defined as T1 (<2 cm) and N0 (node negative). The above cohort is increasing with more awareness and acceptance of mammography screening. This group in itself is a heterogeneous population such as T1a/b versus T1c, Grade I versus II/III and estrogen receptor (ER) positive versus negative tumours. The role of adjuvant therapy for these women is a long-standing dilemma for clinicians due to the lack of prospective randomized trials and a poor representation of this group in pivotal trials. Even guidelines are inconsistent on chemotherapy regimen and the duration of trastuzumab for this subset.

There is increasing evidence from several retrospective studies for an inferior outcome in these patients with recurrence rates as high as 15%–30% after 5–10 years.[1] In a British Columbia data set [2] of N0 breast cancers, positive HER2 status was an independent predictor of breast cancer death in 10 years in a multivariable model, with odds ratio (OR) of 2.03 (P = 0.003) and in a European Institute of Oncology [3] population of pT1abN0 breast cancers, it was an independent predictor of 5 years disease-free survival (DFS) with OR of 2.5 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.9-6.5; P = 0.09). The available evidence for the efficacy of trastuzumab for these patients has limitations such as subgroup analysis of large randomized trials, retrospective nature, small numbers, few events in trials, and differing end points or durations of follow up. Five large randomized Phase III multicenter studies have shown that the addition of trastuzumab to chemotherapy results in decreased recurrence and better overall survival (OS). The proportion of TIN0 tumors and their survival outcome (subgroup analyses) compared to the overall group is depicted in [Table 1].

Table 1

Drugs used in various treatment protocols used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia


Patient population


ER+ and or PgR positive (%)

Node negative (%)

pT 1 tum (%)

HR for DFS (95% CI)

HR for OS (95% CI)

HR given for the additional benefit for adjuvant trastuzumab compared with no such treatment. HR – Hazard ratio; CI – Confidence interval; DFS – Disease-free survival; OS – Overall survival; ER – Estrogen receptor; ACTH – Docetaxel and trastuzumab


HER2+N + HER2+ N- >pT1b





Overall: 0.54 (0.43-0.67) N-tum 0.51 (0.30-0.87)

0.76 (0.47-1.23)

Fin Her[2] [5]

N+ N- and >pT1c and PgR <10%





0.42 (0.21-0.83)

0.55 (0.27-1.11)

Intergroup N9831, NSABP-B31[4] [6] [8]

HER2+ N + HER2+ N+ >pT1c ER + HER2+ N- >Pt1b ER-





0.49 (0.41-0.58)

0.62 (0.49-0.81)

BCIRG 006[7]

HER2+ N+ HER2+N- and risk factors





Overall; 0.49 (ACTH), 0.61 (TCH) N-negative tumors: 0.32 (0.17-0.62) Pt1c tumors: 0.6 (0.4-1.0)

0.63 (0.48-0.81) for ACTH: 0.77 (0.60-0.99) for TCH


HER2+ N+





0.86 (0.61-1.22)

1.27 (0.68-2.38)

Publication History

Article published online:
23 June 2021

© 2018. Indian Society of Medical and Paediatric Oncology. This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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