New Breast Cancer Treatment Buys Patients Precious Time

dual therapy drugs for breast cancerEven though we're lucky to live in a time in which we have modern medicine, it can be frustrating to think we still seem light years away from cures for some of our most common killers -- like breast cancer. But now, we may not be as far from them as we think. Findings from two large studies, both published in The New England Journal of Medicine, tout an exciting breakthrough in the treatment for women in the advanced stages of the disease.

Both studies found that combining drug therapies can attack tumors in different ways and significantly delay the time until women with advanced breast cancer get sicker. One treatment kept tumor growth in check for four months longer, while the other prolonged it by six months. Although the difference may not seem like that long, these therapies are showing amazing promise at being able to buy patients precious time.

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Those few months are incredibly valuable for women in an advanced stage of the disease. It could be enough time to enjoy more birthdays, holidays, and maybe even vacations. It's definitely a big deal -- for these researchers and, more importantly, the patients who now have promising new options that can buy them time and possibly even help improve survival.

It's important to note, though, that experts say these drugs (one called Afinitor, which is paired with the usual aromatase inhibitor exemestane in hormone-receptor positive breast cancers, and the other, an experimental drug called pertuzumab) aren't proven to be cures by any means. They also cost about $10K a month -- yow ... but it's definitely encouraging to think that these drugs could be, like one of the researchers, Dr. José Baselga, said, "laying out a map on the way forward for breast cancer." Awesome!

The next step will be for experts to try the therapies on women in earlier stages of breast cancer, and who knows what they might be able to do from there? It's heartening to hear these researchers really seem to be on the brink of something incredible!

What do you think about these new therapies?

 

Image via Ben Harvey/Flickr

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