Research on two drugs used in treating advanced breast cancer are giving renewed hope to physicians in their battle with the second most common cancer among U.S. women.
One study compared groups of women given a new drug known as pertuzumab, along with regular therapy, and those just receiving standard therapy. According to the Boston Globe, the women who received pertuzumab gained an additional six months before their tumors grew again compared to the other group.
An Associated Press story on NorthJersey.com reported that results of a study that gave women the drug everolimus along with hormone therapy showed that women gained an additional four months before their cancer progressed.
According to CBS News, everolimus and the hormone-blocking drugs caused side effects such as mouth sores, anemia, shortness of breath, high blood sugar, fatigue and lung inflammation. But the study leader Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi, breast cancer research chief at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said the two drugs combined have a greater effect in fighting the cancer.
Around 25 percent of breast cancers start from HER2, a protein that causes malignant cells to spread through the body. Jennifer Litton of the Cancer Center said, according to Bloomberg.com, “We’re beginning to see the promise of looking at tumors on the molecular level. Treating the right patients earlier with the “smart drugs” may cure more women or make metastatic breast cancer a more controllable disease.”
But the drugs are expected to cost up to $10,000 a month, and are not yet proven cures. About 40,000 U.S. women each year have cancer that spreads beyond the breast.