Did you know that (according to the latest statistics) 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime? Well yes, and unfortunately, for many women breast cancer may seem like a death sentence. We have some good news for you – a group of experts in Europe may have found a new treatment option that could increase survivability in women with aggressive breast cancer. Just take a look at the article below and find out more about this. A recent study, funded by the Cancer Research UK has discovered that it is possible to treat breast cancer without needing to undergo chemotherapy. Remarkably, thanks to a cocktail of two breast cancer drugs, 11 percent of the cancers were found to have entirely disappeared within just two weeks. A further 17 percent of cases featured dramatically shrunken tumors after a simple change in treatment.
The Deal On Breast Cancer
Here’s what you need to know – HER2 (human epidermal growth factor) is a protein found on the surface of normal breast cells. It can also affect the growth of some cancer cells. Some cancerous breast cells have a very high number of HER2 receptors. They are called HER2 positive breast cancers. The extra receptors may result in cancer cells growing and dividing at an accelerated rate.
According to the experts, 15-25% of female breast cancer patients suffer from an HER2 positive cancer. This kind of cancer is diagnosed through a biopsy after the initial cancer diagnosis through immunohistochemistry. HER2-positive breast cancers are aggressive and can require extensive treatment to cure. Plus, these cancers are more likely to return.
Breast Cancer Drugs
In this study, the experts were focused on Herceptin and Tykerb, two commonly used cancer drugs. Both drugs are considered to be neoadjuvant treatment, meaning that it’s meant to be used to shrink tumors before the main treatment. These treatments are typically used alongside chemotherapy and surgery. In the case of Herceptin and Tykerb, the treatments to block the communication of growth signals between cancer cells. They also induce cell death, or apoptosis.
Here’s what you need to know – in the first part of the study, 130 women diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer received the following treatment for 11 days before surgery:
- 22 women: no treatment (the control group)
- 51 women: Herceptin only (6 mg per kg of body weight on days one and eight)
- 57 women: Tykerb only (1,500 mg per day)
According to the researchers, in the control group, no women experienced a change in the cancer status of the tumor removed during surgery. The Tykerb-only group experienced the same results as the control group. However, in the Herceptin-only group, one woman had a pathologic complete response and one woman had minimal residual disease.
According to the researchers, in the second part of the study, 127 newly diagnosed women were separated into 3 treatment groups:
- 29 women: no treatment (the control group)
- 32 women: Herceptin only
- 66 women: Herceptin and Tykerb in combination
In the first test, the researchers compared cancer tissue samples removed during the first biopsy and a sample of the mass removed after the 11 days of treatment.
The experts reported that no women experienced a change in the cancer status of the tumor removed during surgery. In the Herceptin-only group, no women had a pathologic complete response and one woman had minimal residual disease. Shockingly, in the Herceptin-Tykerb group, 7 women had a pathologic complete response and 11 women had minimal residual disease. The cancer tissue samples also showed a drop in Ki-67 protein levels, which is a marker of proliferation.
Dr. Nigel Bundred, professor of surgical oncology at the University of Manchester, and lead researcher in this study said:
“This has ground-breaking potential because it allows us to identify a group of patients who, within 11 days, have had their tumors disappear with anti-HER2 therapy alone and who potentially may not require subsequent chemotherapy. This offers the opportunity to tailor treatment for each individual woman.”
Dr. Judith Bliss, of the Institute of Cancer Research, London, co-leader of the trial said:
“These results show that we can get an early indication of pathological response within 11 days, in the absence of chemotherapy, in these patients on combination treatment…Most previous trials have only looked at the pathological response after several months of treatment. Clearly these results need further confirmation, but I suspect the excitement from seeing the speed of disappearance of the tumors will mean that several trials will attempt to confirm these results.”
Note: you should also know that the Herceptin’s licensing does not allow for it to be used without chemotherapy. Meaning that the study may unlock new possibilities for cancer treatment.
We all know that, unfortunately, chemotherapy has incredibly negative side-effects, including hair loss, extreme fatigue, cognitive decline, and illness. And, the worst thing about this treatment is that it spans over months, dragging out these symptoms too. Some doctors have even gone so far as to say the chemotherapy kills more people than cancer does. And, one more thing – the drugs used in the study have their own risks.
- Herceptin – possible side-effects: cardiac failure, potentially fatal lung damage, and myalgia. Other common effects include fever and chills, nausea, vomiting, pain, headache, dizziness, dyspnea, hypotension, rash, and asthenia. It also includes infusion reactions, diarrhea, infections, increased cough, headache, fatigue, rash, neutropenia, and anemia.
- Lapatinib, also called Tyverb or Tykerb, switches off HER2 to make the cells stop growing or die outright. Side effects include diarrhea, skin changes, illness, fatigue, hand-and-foot syndrome, loss of appetite, indigestion, headache, sleeping problems, and muscle and joint pain. Other issues include fertility problems, liver injury, heart problems, nose bleeds, hot flashes, coughing, breathing difficulty, mouth pain, and abdominal pain.
The experts say that most of these side-effects are experienced by as many as ¼ or 1/3 of patients, which is very bad. Women who were treated with a combination of Herceptin and Tykerb before surgery experienced the same side effects Tykerb alone, but more severely. And, one last thing – the cancer research doesn’t really explore non-pharmaceutical treatment as a viable medical solution. But, the good thing is that the number of patients that cure their own disease is rapidly increasing. So, we can only hope that all-natural solutions may become more popular and credible in the near future. Thank you for your time and don’t hesitate to share this article with your friends and family. Thank you and have a good day.