BOSTON (CBS) — A new study may change the way some breast cancers are treated.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Diane Stern reports

Dr. Eric Winer, chief of the division of Women’s Cancers in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber,says researchers have discovered women with relatively small, HER2-positive breast tumors who received a combination of lower-intensity chemotherapy and a targeted therapy following surgery or radiation therapy, were very unlikely to have the cancer recur within a few years of treatment.

Winer is speaking about his breast cancer research at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, this week.

The findings offer, for the first time, a set of standard treatment guidelines for recurrence prevention in this group of patients.

“We tried to use a kind of gentler chemotherapy regime along with Herceptin. What we found was that women did extraordinarily well. What the Herceptin allowed us to do was back off on some of the harsher chemotherapy,” Winer said.

The study enrolled 406 patients with HER2-positive, node-negative breast tumors smaller than 3 cm. They were treated with the drug combination for 12 weeks, followed by nine months of Herceptin alone

“The findings suggest that for many women with this type of breast cancer, this regimen should be considered one of the standard strategies for recurrence prevention,” Winer remarks.

After a median follow-up of 3.6 years, only two or three of the study participants experienced a recurrence of their cancer.

“As we develop better targeted therapies, more specific therapies for cancer, we may have the opportunity to back off on some of the more traditional that are some of the most feared therapies we’ve had because they are associated with some negative side effects,” Winer said.


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