Shorter drug treatment OK for many breast cancer patients
NEWYORK » Many women with a common and aggressive form of breast cancer that is treated with Herceptin can get by with six months of the drug instead of the usual 12, greatly reducing the risk of heart damage it sometimes can cause, a study suggests.
It’s good news, but it comes nearly two decades after the drug first went on the market and many patients have suffered that side effect.
The study was done in the United Kingdom and funded by U.K. government grants. The results were released Wednesday by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and will be presented at the group’s meeting next month.
Herceptin transformed care of a dreaded disease when it was approved in 1998 for women with advanced breast cancers whose growth is aided by a faulty HER2 gene, as 15-20 percent of cases are. It was later approved for treatment of those cancers in earlier stages, too.