Revolutionary Breakthrough in Breast Cancer

October 20 14:05 2005 Print This Article

October 20 – The last few weeks have certainly brought much positive news on medicine breakthroughs and today is no exception. Studies published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine confirm what many have said earlier this year, breast cancer faces a new breakthrough. The drug Herceptin (working ingredient: trastuzumab) has proven to be a revolution in breast cancer cures.

Until now the drug was mostly used when breast cancer recurred or spread beyond the breast but this new study indicates that it’s better to start treatment early on in the stages of breast cancer to prevent actual recurrences and improve the rate of survival for certain types of aggressive cancers. The drug is extremely effective against cancers that have too much of the protein HER2/neu. These forms of cancer are very hard to treat because they do not respond well to chemotherapy or other cancer drugs. Herceptin has proven to cut recurrence rates in half and the survival rate for women with HER2-positive cancer have improved incredibly.

The study was performed on three groups of each almost 1,700 women, the first group received no Herceptin after chemotherapy, the second group received one year of treatment with Herceptin after chemotherapy and the last group received two years of treatment. So far the results of the first and second group differ greatly with survival rates almost double in the group with one year of Herceptin treatment. The group that receives two years of treatment has not finished yet but it is likely that results will be similar if not better.

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