The clinical trial may have found a way forward to getting rid of breast cancer without chemo.
Research presented by Professor Nigel Bundred at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam has revealed that a pair of drugs known as Herceptin (a.k.a trastuzumab) and Lapatinib are able to eliminate some types of breast cancers in just 11 days. This surprising finding, which came out of a Cancer Research UK-funded trial, means that some women afflicted with breast cancer may never need to undergo chemotherapy. Therefore avoiding the ghastly temporary side effects like hair loss, vomiting and fatigue, making treatment less impactful on the body.
When it comes to the beginning of the study, 130 women who were diagnosed with HER2positve breast cancer, were given the following treatment for 11 days before their surgery:
- 22 women: no treatment (the control group)
- 51 women: Herceptin only (6 mg per kg of body weight on days one and eight)
- 57 women: Tykerb only (1,500 mg per day)
There was no change in the cancer status of the tumor removed during surgery for the women in the control group. This also applies for the women in the Tykerb-only group. However, when it comes to the women in the Herceptin-only group,just one woman had a pathologic complete response and one woman had minimal residual disease.
The second part of the study included 127 newly diagnosed women who were separated into 3 treatments groups:
- 29 women: no treatment (the control group)
- 32 women: Herceptin only
- 66 women: Herceptin and Tykerb in combination
Just like in the first part, the researchers compared cancer tissue samples that were removed during thr first biopsy and a sample of the mass removed after the 11 days of treatment.
The results for the control group were the same as in the first part of the trial, no women experienced a change in the cancer status. Those who were given Herceptin only, just one woman had minimal residual disease and none had a pathologic complete response. However, the result were a bit shocking in the Herceptin-Tykerb group since 11 women had minimal residual disease and 7 women had a pathologic complete response. Moreover, the cancer tissue samples also showed a drop in Ki-67 protein levels, which is a marker of proliferation.
The problem currently, however, is that Herceptin’s licensing makes it only available for use alongside chemotherapy and not alone. The results of this study may help to change that though.
Although there’s still a lot of work to be done, hopefully, this is a major step in the fight against one of the world’s deadliest diseases. With medical advancements improving every year, it’s entirely possible this could happen sooner than we think!
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