This drug may fight hard-to-treat breast cancers

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In a new study from the Institute of Cancer Research and elsewhere, researchers found a medication may help keep certain early-stage, hard-to-treat breast cancers at bay.

They found the drug, called Lynparza, could help breast cancer patients with harmful mutations live longer without disease after their cancers had been treated with standard surgery and chemotherapy.

In the study, the team tested patients with mutations in genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 that can predispose people to breast cancer if they don’t work properly, but who did not have a gene flaw that can be targeted by the drug Herceptin.

Most patients also had tumors that were not fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone.

Cancers not fueled by these two hormones or by the gene Herceptin targets are called “triple-negative.” They are especially hard to treat.

The researchers tested Lynparza in 1,836 women and men with early-stage disease who were given the drug or placebo pills for one year after surgery and chemotherapy.

About 82% of patients in the study had triple-negative breast cancer.

The team found after three years, 86% of patients on it were alive without their cancer recurring compared to 77% in the placebo group.

The findings suggest more patients need to get their tumors tested for BRCA mutations to help guide treatment decisions.

Serious side effects were not more common with the drug. Other side effects included anemia, fatigue and blood cell count abnormalities.

Lynparza, which is marketed by AstraZeneca and Merck, is already sold in the United States and elsewhere for treating breast cancers that have widely spread and for treating certain cancers of the ovaries, prostate and pancreas.

If you care about breast cancer, please read studies about walnut may change genes in breast cancer, improve survival and findings of a new way to detect breast cancer more accurately.

For more information about breast cancer treatment and prevention, please see recent studies about how diet could influence spread of breast cancer.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. One author of the study is Andrew N.J.

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