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Drug May Extend Life When Breast Cancer Spreads
Date:5/26/2009

Study funded by pharmaceutical company finds benefits in Abraxane,,,,

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- A new study affirms that the chemotherapy drug Abraxane is more effective, with less troublesome side effects, than the current drug of choice for metastatic breast cancer.

When compared with Taxotere, Abraxane extended the time before a recurrence by almost seven months, effectively doubling survival. Both are members of a class of drugs known as taxanes.

The study, which was a phase 2 trial, was funded by Abraxis BioScience, which makes Abraxane. The findings are reported in the May 26 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"This data, which has been presented at national meetings, reaffirms that Abraxane is a very active drug, is well-tolerated and appears to have a greater anti-tumor effect than what you would see with what had been presumed to be the most active drug," said Dr. William Gradishar, director of breast medical oncology at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. "This probably will encourage people to either use or try Abraxane, as opposed to other taxanes."

Another expert agreed.

"This is a major advance. It's a very well-tolerated drug and has low toxicity. We've used this regimen for a number of years now and it's very good," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge. "We're now beginning to realize that many drugs given more frequently at lower doses is not only less toxic but has less side effects. It still doesn't cure people but it's a kinder, gentler way of delivering drugs, although it is more expensive."

Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) was approved for use in the United States in 2005.

"There has been sort of a preconceived notion that Taxotere is the most potent anti-cancer therapy for metastatic breast cancer, certainly among taxanes," Gradishar said.
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