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Herceptin significantly shortens the treatment of breast cancer
There is good news for all women with aggressive breast cancer. In the future, those affected could only be cured of cancer in about half the time. This would also reduce the harmful side effects of the treatment.
Scientists at Warwick Medical School and the internationally acclaimed University of Cambridge found in their current investigation that treating aggressive breast cancer with Herceptin can cut treatment time in half. The physicians presented the results of their study at this year's meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
Treatment time for HER2-positive breast cancer cut in half?
Women with aggressive breast cancer can be cured of their cancer in half the time of current treatment, which also minimizes the harmful side effects of the therapy, the experts explain. A new study in patients with HER2-positive breast cancer found that survival rates were almost identical among those treated for six months compared to patients treated for one year.
HER2-positive breast cancer is difficult to treat
About a fifth of breast cancer cases are characterized by an excess of the HER2 protein, which traditionally makes women more difficult to treat, the scientists explain.
Unfortunately Herceptin often has serious side effects
The drug trastuzumab, commonly known as Herceptin, has significantly improved the survival of HER2-positive patients since 2005. However, the medication can cause a number of side effects, ranging from high body temperatures to heart problems. The side effects often become more severe with increasing treatment time, the researchers say.
4,088 subjects took part in the study
A total of 4,088 women with HER2-positive breast cancer who were treated with Herceptin were examined for the study. The disease-free survival rate after four years was 89.4 percent in women who were only treated for six months. In comparison, women who received the standard twelve-month standard treatment had a survival rate of 98.8 percent.
Short treatment times resulted in fewer side effects
In addition, only four percent of the women in the 6-month cohort were forced to discontinue Herceptin due to heart problems, which was half the proportion of women who had to stop taking the drug in the 12-month cohort. For many women with HER2-positive breast cancer, the results are the first steps towards shortening treatment times, study author Professor Helena Earl from the University of Cambridge said in a press release on the study results.
Do you need further research?
The new analysis was the largest study to date to investigate the impact of shortening Herceptin's duration of treatment, the researchers say. However, some critics warned that the study’s follow-up phase was relatively short and that further research needed to analyze longer-term survival rates. (as)