A new combination of drugs looks promising for patients suffering from advanced breast cancer, according to recent clinical trials.
In a late-stage clinical trial on 808 patients, women who received new drug pertuzumab alongside Herceptin and chemotherapy lived for an additional 18 months on average, compared to 12 months without pertuzumab.
A new combination of drugs could prolong life expectancy of breast cancer patients by 18 months
Pertuzumab is designed to complement Herceptin for breast cancer patients whose tumours have elevated levels of a particular protein called HER2.
A quarter of the 48,000 Britons diagnosed with breast cancer each year have the HER2 positive form, which is more aggressive.
When the disease starts to spread they are prescribed Herceptin which holds the disease at bay for around a year – six months longer than chemotherapy alone.
But now pertuzumab can give the same benefit again, according to trial results released at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Texas.
Dr. José Baselga, chief of haematology and oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “We have an improvement in progression-free survival that is six months.”
“That’s huge. By any criteria we want to analyse, this is clinically meaningful.”
Genentech, the company which owns pertuzumab, has applied in the last few days for permission to market the drug in the United States and Europe.
But the new drugs are likely to be very expensive - up to £6,360 a month - and so far have not proved to be cures. This may limit their availability on the NHS.
Patients with private medical insurance can have access to expensive drugs and treatments which have not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), so compare health insurance quotes online now.
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