The introduction of trastuzumab for the treatment of tumors that overexpress ErbB2 (also known as HER2) has contributed significantly to recent improvements in systemic therapy for advanced breast cancer. The advances in systemic therapy have highlighted an increasing prevalence of central nervous system involvement in patients with ErbB2-positive breast cancer and a consequent need for new treatment options for brain metastases. Just as ErbB2-targeted systemic therapy has given rise to this challenge, so too could targeted therapy represent an opportunity to meet it. This Review considers the potential for targeted therapy to facilitate effective management of brain metastases in patients with ErbB2-positive breast cancer, and discusses in particular the data currently available in this setting for lapatinib, an orally available small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor of ErbB1 and ErbB2.
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