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A giant little step in cancer treatment opening up new therapeutic horizons
Date:2/27/2012

early diagnosis and treatments have dramatically reduced mortality from this disease, there are still breast tumours whose biological characteristics make them more aggressive. Around 15% of breast tumours are HER2 positive and fall into this category. Moreover, they tend to affect younger women. In spite of the fact that this group has benefited tremendously from specific biological therapies targeted at this subtype (monoclonal antibodies), many tumours continue to advance and metastasize. "When a patient with this breast cancer subtype stops responding to the initial drug and the disease progresses, a second drug is administered. It may be that the response to these two treatments is negligible or there may even be no response at all and the tumour continues to grow. If we then treat the patients with the two drugs in combination, even though they ceased to function individually, what we have found is that almost 50% of the tumours responded to this combination and did so very positively, showing a clear improvement or keeping the disease stable for a considerable period of time", concluded Dr Corts.

In the fight against cancer, the combination of treatments is highly common practice. However, the concept described is different: it is not about seeing the results of combining drug A with drug B, but, when A fails to work, B is administered, and if this also fails we return to the starting point and initiate treatment with a combination of the two (A + B). This strategy could offer an unprecedented key to multiplying treatment options.

In the specific case of this study, we administered trastuzumab (the first-choice treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer); when the tumour continued growing we used pertuzumab (currently pending approval) and when the cancer continued to progress we administered the two together. "The results were very positive and highly informative for new studies", said Dr Corts.


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Contact: Amanda Wren
awren@vhio.net
34-695-207-886
Vall dHebron Institute of Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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