Approximately 20%–25% of all breast cancers over express a key cell surface growth factor receptor known as HER2. HER2 plays a key role in cell growth and proliferation and is linked to worse clinical outcomes, making it a logical therapeutic target. The first HER2 targeted drug to be approved by the FDA, was the humanized monoclonal antibody trastuzumab, after it showed improvements in survival in the adjuvant setting, and delayed time to progression in the metastatic setting. Although highly effective, for reasons that are not clear, some patients display resistance to trastuzumab. Lapatinib is an oral, small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor, that inhibits both the HER1 ahd HER2 receptors and may be able to overcome trastuzumab resistance. Lapatinib is approved in the second line setting for use in combination with capecitabine or with letrozole. In this review, we will discuss the indications, concerns or any issues with regards to the drug.
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