A combination of two known cancer drugs is creating excitement among doctors and researchers in cancer treatment. A team of UK doctors successfully managed to reduce and in some instances even completely cure an aggressive form of breast cancer known as HER2 positive, in women who were awaiting surgery.
The results were published at the European Breast Cancer Conference on March 11. this year, and experts described the results as “dramatic”.
The English doctors used a combination of the commonly used drugs Lapatinib and Herceptin. The treatment was actually meant only to examine the possibility to brake the progression of this particularly aggressive type of breast cancer in the period between diagnosis and the subsequent surgery and chemotherapy, but the results were sensational.
In total, the 66 women included in the trial had tumors of between 1 and 3 cm in size, in seven cases the cancer tumor disappeared completely while in a further eleven patients the tumor size was reduced to less than 5 mm. In several cases the women appeared for surgery only to be told, efter examination by surgeons, that there was nothing to remove. Some of the women had only been treated with the new combination of drugs for 11 days prior to their scheduled operation.
The specially aggressive form of breast cancer occurs in one out of ten breast cancer patients and is caused by the protein HER2 which causes tumors that are particularly resistant to conventional cancer treatment. “These results are extremely promising, if they prove durable, this may be the first step toward a whole new way to treat HER2-positive breast cancer,” says Professor Arnie Purushotham in a press release from Cancer Research UK.