Women all over the world can stop worrying about breast cancer and thinking of it as a death sentence since scientists from Europe may have found a new treatment that can increase survavibility in women who are diagnosed with an aggrassive breast cancer.
Accordinng to a recent research conducted in UK, there is a possibility to treat breast cancer without undergoing chemotherapy. The researchers have discovered that 11 %of the cancers dissapeared entirely within just two weeks and it’s all thanks to a cocktail of two breast cancer drugs. Moreover, a simple change in treatment helped in shrinking tumors dramatically.
The Deal On Breast Cancer
HER2 – a human epidermal growth factor which is a protein found on the surface of normal breast cells can also affect the growth of some cancer cells. Certain cancerous breast cells contain an extremely high number of HER2 receptors which are also called HER2 positive breast cancers. As a result, all those extra receptors may cause cancer cells growing and dividing at an accelerated rate.
HER2 positive cancer is affecting even 15 to 25% of female breast cancer patients. Doctors diagnose HER2 cancer through a biopsy after the initial cancer diagnosis through immunohistochemistry. This type of cancer requires extensive treatment to cure since it is extremely aggressive and the chances to return are higher.
Breast Cancer Drugs
Researchers only focused on Tykerb and Herceptin which are two most commonly used drugs for cancer
They are supposed to shrink tumors before the main treatment since they are considered as neoadjuvant treatment and are used along with surgery and chemotherapy. Beside blocking the communication of growth signals between cancer cells, they also induce cell death or apoptosis.
When it comes to the beginning of the study, 130 women who were diagnosed with HER2positve breast cancer, were given the following treatment for 11 days before their surgery:
- 22 women: no treatment (the control group)
- 51 women: Herceptin only (6 mg per kg of body weight on days one and eight)
- 57 women: Tykerb only (1,500 mg per day)
There was no change in the cancer status of the tumor removed during surgery for the women in the control group. This also applies for the women in the Tykerb-only group. However, when it comes to the women in the Herceptin-only group,just one woman had a pathologic complete response and one woman had minimal residual disease.
The second part of the study included 127 newly diagnosed women who were separated into 3 treatments groups:
- 29 women: no treatment (the control group)
- 32 women: Herceptin only
- 66 women: Herceptin and Tykerb in combination
Just like in the first part, the researchers compared cancer tissue samples that were removed during thr first biopsy and a sample of the mass removed after the 11 days of treatment.
The results for the control group were the same as in the first part of the trial, no women experienced a change in the cancer status. Those who were given Herceptin only, just one woman had minimal residual disease and none had a pathologic complete response. However, the result were a bit shocking in the Herceptin-Tykerb group since 11 women had minimal residual disease and 7 women had a pathologic complete response. Moreover, the cancer tissue samples also showed a drop in Ki-67 protein levels, which is a marker of proliferation.
A Word From The Researchers
“This has ground-breaking potential because it allows us to identify a group of patients who, within 11 days, have had their tumors disappear with anti-HER2 therapy alone and who potentially may not require subsequent chemotherapy,” said Dr. Nigel Bundred, professor of surgical oncology at the University of Manchester, who presented the study. “This offers the opportunity to tailor treatment for each individual woman.”
Moreover, according to Dr. Judith Bliss who is a co-leader of the trial, the results show that the individuals who were given the combination of these drugs can get an early indication of pathological response within 11 days without having to undergo chemotherapy. She also says: “Most previous trials have only looked at the pathological response after several months of treatment. Clearly these results need further confirmation, but I suspect the excitement from seeing the speed of disappearance of the tumors will mean that several trials will attempt to confirm these results.”
Unfortunately, Herceptin’s licensing is not yet allowed to be used without chemotherapy which means that the study may unlock new possibilities for cancer treatment.
Illness, hair loss, cognitive declining, and extreme fatigue are some of the main side-effects of chemotherapy. The worst part about chemo is that the treatment lasts for months which means that it drags out these symptoms as well. According to some doctors, chemotherapy kills more people that cancer does. You should also be aware of the fact that these drugs have their own risks.
Mylagia, potentially fatal lung damage and cardiac failure are side-effects of Herceptin. However, there are also other more common side-effects such as headaches, dizziness, rash, asthenia, hypotension, vomiting, nausea, dyspnea, pain, fever and chills. Moreover, it can also cause anemia, nutropenia, headache, fatigue, rash, diarrhea, infections, and increased cough.
Tykerb or also know as Lapatinib or Yverb is used to switch off HER2 in order to make the cells stop growing or die outright. However, there is a risk of numerous side-effects like the following ones: muscle and joint pain, headache, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, idnigestion, diarrhea, skin changes, illness, fatigue, and hand-and-foot syndrome. Moreover, other more serious issues can arise including heart problems, abdominal pain, breathing difficuly, mouth pain, nose bleeds, hot flashes, liver injury and fertility problems.
Most of these side-effects are experienced by as many as ¼ or 1/3 of patients.
It should be mentioned that those women who were given the combination of the two drugs experienced the same side effects with those treated with Tykerb only, but more severely.
As you can realize on your own, this cancer research does not really explore non-pharmaceutical treatment as a viable medical solution, but nowadays, there are more and more people who try to cure the disease on their own, trying many natural alternatives, so we can only hope that all-natural solutions may become more popular and effective in the near future.