First, let me say that even though this isn’t a “natural” solution, it is a step in the right direction because it is a possible way around using chemotherapy. And that, in my opinion, the worst and most popular option we have today.
Professor Nigel Bundred at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam revealed that two drugs, known as Herceptin (a.k.a trastuzumab) and Lapatinib, were combined and successfully killed off cancer.
They are individually not new to the market, but this is the first time they have been used together in this way before surgery and chemotherapy. What they observed was some types of breast cancer responded in only 11 days.
Funded by Cancer Research UK, they aimed to use these drugs to combat a protein called HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) which affects the growth and division of cancer cells. It’s also more likely to return than other cancer types.
What also makes this treatment so appealing is the fact that it may eliminate the need for chemotherapy and surgery in some cases.
257 women with HER2 positive breast cancer were selected for the study. In the first, 130 women were assigned to one of three groups – some received Herceptin (trastuzumab), others received lapatinib. Both these groups were treated for 11 days after diagnosis and before surgery.
A third group received no drug treatment before surgery (the control group). What they found was that of those on the combination of Herceptin and lapatinib, 7 of the 66 women had no cancer cells remaining within two weeks and an additional 11 women featured dramatically shrunken tumors.
Compared to the control group who were only given Herceptin, they were found to have 0% with no trace of cancer cells, and only 3% showed a drop in tumor size. Clearly, the two drugs combined have a major effect on breast cancer cells as opposed to being used on their own.
If you recall my initial statement about chemo… the problem currently, however, is that Herceptin’s licensing makes it only available for use alongside chemotherapy and not alone. The results of studies like this and our continued awareness can help to change things.