The prevalence of breast cancer is constantly on the rise and nearly one in eight women will be diagnosed with this disease at certain point of their lifetime. The worst part is that more than half a million of American women died from breast cancer in 2011 alone, despite the notable advances in the medical field. As for the U.K, nearly 53,000 women annually are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and in 10 percent to 15 percent of these cases it is HER2 positive breast cancer. Around 11,500 women die from the disease every year.
But, there is relatively good news, too. A recent research presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam presented combination of drugs which are capable of eliminating certain breast cancers within 11 days. Amazingly, this means that women with breast cancer may never need to undergo conventional treatments like chemotherapy.
Approximately a quarter of women with HER2 positive breast cancer, who were treated with a combination of the targeted drugs lapatinib and trastuzumab before surgery and chemotherapy, saw their tumors shrink significantly or even disappear, according to results from a clinical trial, according to The European CanCer Organisation (ECCO).
This particular article by ECCO also goes to say:
The trial aimed to investigate the effects of Herceptin and Lapatinib, two drugs commonly used during one type of breast cancer treatment, following tumor-removal surgery and conventional chemotherapy. They both work by targeting a protein known as HER2, one that drives the growth of some types of breast cancers, including some particularly aggressive variants.
In this instance, 257 women with HER2-positive breast cancer were given the drug combination after being diagnosed, before surgery was due to take place. Remarkably, 11 percent of the cancers were found to have entirely disappeared within just two weeks, and a further 17 percent of cases featured dramatically shrunken tumors.
Even though both Herceptin and Lapatinib are being used in the treatment of breast cancer already, they have been never combined before. As you can see, the results were more than amazing. What makes the treatment especially promising is the fact that it doesn’t need to use surgery or chemotherapy. As explained in the article, the current treatments are quite effective and women typically experience a complete response within 3-4 months. However, the 11-day response was more than surprising!
According to Prof Arnie Purushotham, “These results are very promising if they stand up in the long run and could be the starting step of finding a new way to treat HER2 positive breast cancers.