In this instance, 257 women with HER2-positive breast cancer were given the drug combination after being diagnosed, before surgery was due to take place. Remarkably, 11 percent of the cancers were found to have entirely disappeared within just two weeks, and a further 17 percent of cases featured dramatically shrunken tumors.
The team were utterly taken aback that these commonplace drugs could in some cases completely cure patients of breast cancer. Breast cancers fueled by HER2 are known for being more likely to return than others, so this study, although small, is a huge boost to those currently suffering from them.
Conventional chemotherapy is known for its side effects, which although temporary can be fairly debilitating; these include hair loss, frequent vomiting, powerful fatigue and even reduced cognitive functions in some cases. A course can take several months to complete, and even then, it may not always completely cure the patient of cancer. This new discovery may mean that some breast cancer patients may not need chemotherapy or even the surgery to begin with.
Samia al Qadhi, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Care – a UK-based charity – said that although this is an early-stage study, it “has game changing potential,” according to the Guardian. She noted that “at present, Herceptin’s licensing means it is only available to be used alongside chemotherapy and not alone. All cancer patients deserve access to clinically effective treatments.”
Like all cancers, breast cancer is complicated: It’s actually thought of as a group of at least ten separate diseases, all with their own development styles and associated patient survival rates. There’s a long way to go until all ten are able to be comprehensively and rapidly cured, but until then, research like this serves to provide medical professionals with another effective weapon in their arsenal.
Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer: