Breast drug can work in half the usual time

Daily Mail - - One Day To Go ... - By Vic­to­ria Allen Science Cor­re­spon­dent

WOMEN with an ag­gres­sive breast can­cer can be treated in half the time us­ing ex­ist­ing drugs – slash­ing the risk of side-ef­fects such as heart dam­age, a study has found.

Her­ceptin is pre­scribed to one in five women to treat early-stage HER2-pos­i­tive breast can­cer. But the drug can also at­tack heart cells, lead­ing to heart fail­ure and fluid in the lungs.

De­spite the risk, the NHS says women should take it ev­ery three weeks for a year or until the can­cer re­turns.

In a com­par­a­tive study of 4,089 women, led by the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, 89.8 per cent of those tak­ing the drug for a year were free of breast can­cer af­ter four years. How­ever, the re­sults show 89.4 per cent were can­cer-free four years later af­ter tak­ing it for just six months – and their risk of heart com­pli­ca­tions halved.

Pro­fes­sor Charles Swan­ton, of the char­ity Can­cer Re­search UK, said: ‘This is a crit­i­cally im­por­tant study.

‘The ex­cit­ing early key find­ings show that six months of Her­ceptin might be as ef­fec­tive as 12 months, and it may also be safer and with fewer side-ef­fects.’

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