Combination of two drugs works quickly and effectively against breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in western countries and the cancer that most women die of. Doctors have long been looking for ways to better treat breast cancer. Now the experts have found that a combination of two drugs can shrink the tumors and even destroy them completely.
Every year countless women die from the consequences of breast cancer. But it could be that women with cancer may soon receive better treatment. Scientists found in an investigation that the combination of two drugs can help to quickly fight or destroy tumors. The doctors presented the results of their study at the “10th European Breast Cancer Conference ”in Amsterdam.
New treatments could save many women from chemotherapy
Breast cancer is a disease that particularly threatens women in western countries. This form of cancer kills more women than any other cancer, the researchers say. In contrast, men are rarely affected by the disease. Doctors have long been looking for ways to treat the disease more effectively. Now the experts found in a study that the combination of two drugs can help treat the condition better in the future. Cancer tumors shrink or even be completely destroyed if they are treated with the medication. This could save many women from chemotherapy in the future, the scientists add.
New therapy achieved clear results after eleven days
In their investigation, the doctors treated women with breast cancer with a combination of trastuzumab (the general name for Herceptin) and lapatinib. After eleven days of treatment, it was clearly observed that the tumors were beginning to shrink, the experts explain. In some cases, the tumors even disappeared completely. This potential for treatment could have groundbreaking consequences for cancer treatment. Patients could be treated so effectively within 11 days that their tumors completely disappear. Subsequent chemotherapy may not even be necessary, explained Prof. Nigel Bundred from the University of Manchester when the data was presented.
All breast cancer patients should have access to the medication
For some patients, the effects of this combination of medications will be astonishing and mean that they can do without chemotherapy and the stressful side effects altogether, the researchers say. In some patients, the tumors will not shrink, but medical professionals would notice this quickly and use other treatment options. Of course, further investigations have to be carried out to find more information about the effects of the drugs, the scientists explain. This is particularly true because trastuzumab (Herceptin) is currently only available when used with chemotherapy. But all cancer patients deserve access to such clinically effective treatments, the experts add.
Study examined 257 women with HER2-positive breast cancer
It was unexpected to see such a dramatic response to trastuzumab and lapatinib treatment within eleven days, explains co-author Prof. Judith Bliss from the Institute of Cancer Research in London. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Manchester, the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Cancer Research. The medical team examined 257 women with HER2-positive breast cancer. Random women were initially assigned either trastuzamab, lapatinib, or no treatment. After evidence from other studies revealed the effectiveness of the combination of two drugs, the physicians changed the design of their study. Women now received additional trastuzumab if they were assigned to the lapatinib group, the experts say.
Eleven percent of the treated women showed no biological signs of invasive tumors
Of the women who received both drugs, 17 percent had minimal residual illnesses. 11 percent of the treated women had no biological signs of invasive breast tumors. Of the women treated exclusively with trastuzumab, only three percent achieved a minimal residual disease or a complete regeneration, say the doctors. HER2-positive breast cancer is more likely to return after treatment compared to other types of breast cancer. The condition is generally treated with surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted anti-HER2 drugs.
New treatment saves side effects and improves quality of life
In the UK, around 53,000 women are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer each year, and up to 15 percent of these cases are HER2-positive breast cancer. 11,500 women die of the disease in the UK each year. The results are very promising, if they can survive in the long term, the scientists explain. So we would have found a new way to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. This could save some women from chemotherapy after surgery. So they would not be exposed to the strong side effects and would have a better quality of life, the experts add. (as)