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Complete pathologic response of HER2-positive breast cancer liver metastasis with dual Anti-HER2 antagonism

Hans F Schoellhammer1, Felicia Hsu1, Courtney Vito1, Peiguo Chu2, Jinha Park3, James Waisman4 and Joseph Kim1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, MD, 1500 E. Duarte Rd., Duarte, CA 91010, USA

2 Department of Pathology, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1500 E. Duarte Rd., Duarte, CA 91010, USA

3 Department of Radiology, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1500 E. Duarte Rd., Duarte, CA 91010, USA

4 Department of Medical Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics Research, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, 1500 E. Duarte Rd., Duarte, CA 91010, USA

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:242  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-242

Published: 4 April 2014



Although breast cancer frequently metastasizes to the bones and brain, rarely breast cancer patients may develop isolated liver metastasis. There is increasing data that anti-HER2 targeted therapy in conjunction with systemic chemotherapy may lead to increased rates of pathologic complete response in the primary breast cancer. However, little is known about its effects on metastatic liver disease.

Case presentation

We report the treatment of a 54-year-old female who was diagnosed with HER2-positive invasive ductal carcinoma and synchronous breast cancer liver metastasis (BCLM). The patient underwent eight cycles of standard docetaxel with two anti-HER2 targeted agents, trastuzumab and pertuzumab. Subsequent radiographic imaging demonstrated complete radiographic response in the primary lesion with an approximate 75% decrease in the liver metastasis. After informed consent the patient underwent modified radical mastectomy that revealed pathologic complete response. Re-staging demonstrated no new disease outside the liver and a left hepatectomy was performed for resection of BCLM. Final pathologic examination revealed no residual malignant cells in the liver specimen, indicating pathologic complete response. Herein, we discuss the anti-HER2 targeted agents trastuzumab and pertuzumab and review the data on dual HER2 antagonism for HER2-positive breast cancer and the role of surgical resection of BCLM.


The role of targeted agents for metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer is under active clinical trial investigation and we await the maturation of trial results and long-term survival data. Our results suggest that these agents may also be effective for producing considerable pathologic response in patients with BCLM.

HER2-positive breast cancer; Targeted therapy; Breast cancer liver metastases; Trastuzumab; Pertuzumab; Complete pathologic response