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New data show that Herceptin, Xeloda and Avastin help patients with early and advanced breast cancer live longer or remain disease free for longer


Roche medicines offer improved ways of fighting the leading cause of cancer death in women

New data being presented at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) show that Herceptin (trastuzumab), Avastin (bevacizumab) and oral Xeloda (capecitabine) continue to offer new and better treatment options for breast cancer patients allowing women to live longer or disease free for longer if the medicines are given before and after surgery as well as in advanced stages of disease.

Key data being presented include:

* Herceptin before surgery: Results from the NOAH (NeOAdjuvant Herceptin) phase III study showed that women with locally advanced HER2-positive breast cancer who started a combination of Herceptin and standard chemotherapy prior to surgery had a significantly greater chance of living free of their disease (event-free survival) three years after initiation of treatment as compared to women who were receiving pre-operative chemotherapy alone.
* Xeloda in early breast cancer: Early data from an independent study in Finland and Sweden indicate that the chemotherapy pill Xeloda, which is already proven in advanced breast cancer, may also reduce the recurrence of early breast cancer and help women live longer. This is one of 20 Xeloda abstracts that have been accepted for presentation during SABCS.
* Avastin in advanced breast cancer: First efficacy results from the largest ever safety study of Avastin in a real-life setting, which involved more than 2,000 patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer, confirm that Avastin can be used with a broad range of chemotherapy treatments giving patients a median of almost 10 months without their disease getting worse. The results, which are one of 24 separate Avastin data presentations during SABCS, confirm that Avastin-based therapy is essential for improving the lives of women with advanced breast cancer.

“Researching new cancer treatments is a complex step by step process. Each success helps lay the foundation for the next step forward”, said William M. Burns, CEO Division Roche Pharmaceuticals. “These results show that we are making significant progress towards giving doctors and their breast cancer patients better and more effective treatment options to fight this devastating disease at all stages”, he added.

Presentation of Data (See source for data)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide.1 Each year more than one million new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed worldwide, and nearly 400,000 people will die of the disease annually.2 In HER2-positive breast cancer, increased quantities of the HER2 protein are present on the surface of the tumour cells. This is known as ‘HER2-positivity’. High levels of HER2 are present in a particularly aggressive form of the disease which responds poorly to chemotherapy. Research shows that HER2-positivity affects approximately 20-30 percent of women with breast cancer.3
About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world’s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world’s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, and is a market leader in virology. It is also active in other major therapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammatory and metabolic disorders and diseases of the central nervous system. In 2007 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totalled 36.8 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 9.3 billion francs. Roche has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai, and invested over 8 billion Swiss francs in R&D in 2007. Worldwide, the Group employs about 80,000 people. Additional information is available on the Internet at

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1) World Health Organization,
2) Ferlay J, et al., GLOBOCAN 2002. Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide. IARC CancerBase No.5, Version 2.0. IARCPress, Lyon, 2004. 2004.
3) Harries M, Smith I. The development and clinical use of trastuzumab (Herceptin). Endocr Relat Cancer 9: 75-85, 2002.


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