Despite unbelievable advances in medical science in recent decades, breast cancer kills. Approximately 1 in 8 American women will develop breast cancer cells during the course of their lifetime.
Finding a cure is imperative, and as such, fervent research continues. At the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam, scientists presented a pair of drugs with an astounding claim: this treatment can eradicate some types of breast cancer in only 11 days, eliminating the need for chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy, whilst an amazing feat of medical-scientific engineering, is known for its uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating side effects. Women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment may lose their hair, suffer extreme fatigue, and even loss of cognitive function.
Cancers may also recur after long, painful months of chemotherapy treatment.
The new trial, raising hopes across the medical community, is focused upon two drugs: Herceptin and Lapatinib. The drugs, in tandem, target a protein known as HER2, which is instrumental in stimulating the growth of certain cancer cells.
As documented by the BBC, the drug trial proceeded as follows: 257 women with HER2-positive breast cancer were prescribed the trial drug, pre-surgery. An encouraging 11 percent of the cancers disappeared within 14 days; 17 percent of the cancerous tumors shrank significantly.
Trial supervisors were both surprised and delighted at the results.
HER2 cancers are widely acknowledged to be more recurrent than others. So an extrapolation of these results could change lives. It truly has “game changing potential,” in the words of Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of U.K.-based cancer charity Breast Cancer Care.
Speaking to the BBC, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “Such a rapid response to treatment could soon give doctors the unprecedented ability to identify women responding so well that they would not need grueling chemotherapy.”
Game-changing potential, indeed.
Drug trial legislation means that this drug will need to go through extended, controlled testing before it can be used without chemotherapy, however.
“All cancer patients deserve access to clinically effective treatments,” Samia continued.
Responses to this new drug combination strike a balance between impatient excitement and professional reservation; breast cancer is complex. Its strains are numerous, and its pathological origins are tangled, interwoven, and incredibly hard to separate. Different cancers affect patients in various ways, and survival rates can be unpredictable.
However, the presentation of the “11-day cure” provides a huge boost of encouragement to both the medical industry and to cancer patients themselves.
If trials continue to yield good results, we could be looking at a long-awaited solution to one of modern medicine’s most complicated puzzles.
Have you ever been affected by cancer? Share this story in solidarity with everyone who has ever been touched by this devastating disease. Here’s hoping that the successes of this drug trial continue!