Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. Experts are constantly trying to look for a better way to treat it and now they might have one.

BBC news reports on a unique new treatment.

Two drugs are said to have drastically decreased dangerous breast cancer tumors.

Experts are saying that one pair of drugs have the ability to greatly shrink tumors in just 11 days. The new findings were recently presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference.  If these are accurate then some women might not need chemotherapy.

The drugs were tested on almost three hundred women. They target a ‘specific weakness found in one in ten breast cancers’.

Doctors are calling this discovery a ‘stepping stone’ in the field. Apparently even the doctors leading the clinical trials were shocked and awed by the surprising positive results.

The experts actually led the trial just to see how the drugs would affect the tumors until the patients were ready for surgery. They were shocked to find that within eleven days some women did not even have a tumor left to operate on.

Professor Judith Bliss, from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, commented on the trials. She called them ‘dramatic’. “We were particularly surprised by these findings as this was a short-term trial. It became apparent some had a complete response. It's absolutely intriguing, it is so fast,” according to Dr. Bliss.

The two exciting drugs are called lapatinib and trastuzumab, which is more widely known as Herceptin. Both of the drugs aim for HER2 - a protein that drives the growth of some women's breast cancers. The drug herceptin works on the surface of cancerous cells while lapatinib is able to hit inside the cell to disable HER2.

The clinical study, which also took place at NHS hospitals in Manchester, gave the treatment to women with tumors sized between 1 and 3cm. In under two weeks of treatment, the cancer was said to disappear completely in 11% of cases, and ‘in a further 17% they were smaller than 5mm’.

What treatments do women with HER2 positive breast cancers currently get?

Usually women with this cancer get surgery, followed by chemotherapy and Herceptin. However Professor Bliss finds that these results show that some women might not need chemotherapy anymore.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, the chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, commented on the study.

He said, “We hope this particularly impressive combination trial will serve as a stepping stone to an era of more personalized treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer. Such a rapid response to treatment could soon give doctors the unprecedented ability to identify women responding so well that they would not need grueling chemotherapy.”

Gerry Oginski
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