New treatment gives hope to breast cancer patients

Therapy treats cancer without serious side effects

A newly approved treatment for breast cancer is helping improve survival rates without the negative side effects.

Clinical trials at Cancer Care Centers of South Texas helped lead to recent approval of a new "smart bomb" type of therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Pat Dannish enrolled in the study after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of Stage 2 breast cancer.

"It was a miracle drug," said Dannish. "I didn't have nausea, I didn't have any of the side effects."

Kadcyla is a combination of a drug called Herceptin and a chemotherapy drug called DM1.

Patients are treated intravenously every three weeks.

Dannish was treated for a year as part of the study but after just four treatments, was diagnosed as cancer-free. 

"To know that the cancer was gone, it was incredible," she said.

Dr. Sharon Wilks, medical oncologist at Cancer Care Centers of South Texas, said the drug works by targeting the cancer cells and delivering chemotherapy to those particular cells, leaving the healthy cells alone.

"This drug is released into the blood stream. It would be extremely toxic to the patient but because it's specifically only released into the cancer cell, it destroys the cancer cell, but it does not have any significant side effects to the patient," said Wilks. 

Patients treated by Wilks had no hair loss, nausea or other common symptoms of chemotherapy.      

She said it can be used as indefinitely for patients with recurring cancer. 

"To be able to give a treatment that does not cause people side effects and prolongs their survival, I'm ready for that and I'm glad that we have this kind of technology available," she said.

As of now, the FDA has only approved Kadcyla for use in patients with an aggressive type of breast cancer called called HER2NEU, but it's being considered for treating other types of cancer.


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