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New Breast Cancer Drug on the Horizon?

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In today's news, updated data on an experimental breast cancer drug called trastuzumab emtansine, or T-DM1, shows better survival (by five months) than a standard mix of two other drugs for metastatic breast cancer patients.  We've talked often on this blog about the importance of taking these incremental steps toward finding the best cocktail of cancer drugs, with fewer side effects, that continues to push the boundaries of survival.  Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction toward that purpose.  And it marks the beginning of breast cancer awareness month.  Below is a comment on the new findings from breast cancer program co-director Vered Stearns, M.D.

"Results from the EMILIA trial demonstrate that treatment of women with metastatic breast cancer whose tumor have progressed on multiple prior treatments were more likely to benefit from treatment with T-DM1 compared to the combination of lapatinib and capecitabine. Importantly, the new agent was associated with an improvement in overall survival, an outcome that is not always observed in phase III trials. Furthermore, the toxicity associated with T-DM1 is less extensive that is expected with the lapatinib and capcitabine combination. I expect that T-DM1 will be approved by the FDA in the next few months and will provide out patients with a new treatment approach. I also anticipate that the agent will be studied in early stages of the disease.  - Vered Stearns, M.D.