‘A step forward’

New drug offers hope for women suffering deadly form of breast cancer

A patient undergoes a mammogram. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

A new experimental drug has been shown to significantly slow the spread of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, a deadly variant of the disease that normally kills patients within a year.

Metastatic triple-negative breast cancer occurs in 15 percent of all breast cancer cases, and has thus far resisted successful treatment due to resistance to traditional cancer treatments. Chemotherapy for instance, only slows the disease progress in 10 to 15 percent of patients — and even then, the slowdown only persists for an average of two to three months, according to researchers.

But in a recent trial of new drug sacituzumab govitecan, which was crafted by combining an antibody with a chemotherapy drug, a third of patients showed a significant reduction in the growth of their cancer for up to eight months, while 50 percent of patients in the trial saw the progression of their cancer reduced by five months.

“These patients had a significant reduction of their cancer,” said the lead author on the study, Dr. Kevin Kalinsky. “This is an exciting new therapeutic.”

Over the past 20 years, scientists have been unable to improve the survival rate for women with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. But with the positive signs of the recent trial, some doctors are daring to hope.

“This is a step forward for women where there were not any real treatment options,” said Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, interim chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. “It was not a cure — we still have a long way to go.”

Read the full story at U.S. News.

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