A new treatment for breast cancer has been hailed a “game changer” after it was found to slow the progression of aggressive breast cancer by nine months.
By combining an established hormone drug called fulvestrant with a new treatment called palbociclib, doctors found they could slow the cancer growth in around two thirds of women with advanced forms of the most common type of breast cancer, thereby delaying the need for chemotherapy.
The international study, which was carried out across 17 countries, followed 521 women who received either palbociclib and fulvestrant, or a dummy pill and fulvestrant.
Women who took the new combination of drugs saw the progression of their cancer slow by an average of 9.5 months, compared with 4.6 months in the placebo group.
The treatment could delay the need for chemotherapy for months.The treatment could delay the need for chemotherapy for months.
A total of 67 per cent of women in the group taking palbociclib plus fulvestrant either saw a reduction in the size of tumour or control of disease for at least six months. That was compared with 40 per cent of the women in the dummy pill group.
One in five women even saw a decrease in tumour size, according to the study, which was published in the Lancet Oncology medical journal.
“We hope our results lead to the adoption of this drug combination in breast cancer, where it delays the need to start chemotherapy by an average of nine months,” said Dr Nicholas Turner, who led the study in the UK.
“Our study also sends a powerful message that in combining new drugs in innovative trials we can find better options for women with advanced breast cancer.
“Chemotherapy can add several months to life but it comes at a cost of often life-limiting side effects, and we need alternative treatments that are better tolerated to treat patients with advanced breast cancer.”
Delaying the need for chemotherapy would be a huge boost for cancer patients, as its toxic side effects can be highly destructive. Not only does it lead to hair loss, but it also causes nausea, extreme fatigue, and cripples the body’s immune system.