Cancer News Network

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

New drug offers hope to women in early phases of breast cancer

The Age: A new treatment that dramatically slows the spread of aggressive late-stage breast cancer is offering hope of a cure for women in the early phases of the disease.

By combining their normal chemotherapy with the drug Tykerb, a study found that women with late-stage or metastatic breast cancer benefited from significant delays in the spread of their disease to other parts of the body.

The results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine today, show that women on the combined treatment had an average wait of 36.9 weeks before the disease spread, compared with 19.7 weeks for women on chemotherapy alone.

More than 300 women, including several Australians, took part in the study. Co-author Arlene Chan, a breast cancer oncologist at the Mount Hospital in Perth, said the combined treatment could only extend and improve the quality of life for late-stage sufferers.

Such was the trial's success, she said there was a good chance the treatment would also help eliminate some early-stage breast cancers.

"The exciting thing about a trial like this in advanced breast cancer is that … it usually translates into the drug being available to be used in the early setting," she said. "This agent is now already being investigated in a number of large international clinical trials for women with early breast cancer."

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