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New drug combination may reduce breast cancer


A study has found a new combination of drugs could be beneficial to women with an advanced form of breast cancer.

The findings of a preliminary study show combining Herceptin and chemotherapy to form T-DM1 helped reduced the size of tumours in a quarter of patients with incurable HER2-positive breast cancer.

Receptors in HER2, which are found in small amounts on normal breast cells, encourage normal cell growth, but women with HER2-positive breast cells contain many more receptors than is typical, promoting a particularly aggressive type of tumour.

Although it is not yet licensed, T-DM1, which combines Herceptin with the chemotherapy treatment DM1, could be used to direct the chemotherapy to the HER2 genes that encourage the cancer to grow.

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The findings show the new treatment helped to shrink tumours or stabilise the disease for at least six months in a total of 35% of patients.

Dr David Miles, medical oncologist at the Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, near London, said: “These results are welcome news for the thousands of women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer who have few, if any, remaining treatment options.

“It is important that we continue to explore further this promising treatment that takes the drug directly and selectively to kill the cancer cells.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

Mount Vernon Hospital

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