NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Doctors are reporting two potentially breakthrough drugs for treating advanced breast cancer.
One is able to reach tumors that have spread to the brain. The other has been described as a guided missile, a drug that’s able to bring chemotherapy directly to the cancer cell.READ MORE: 18-Year-Old Saadiq Teague Arrested After Being Spotted With AK-47 At Times Square Subway Station
Dikla Benzeevi was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32. Now 49, she has been living with metastatic breast cancer for 17 years.
“I have been switching therapies about every one and a half to two years,” Diklas said.
Her type of cancer is knows as HER-2 positive, which tends to be more aggressive and is more likely to spread and come back after treatment.
“I have been on 15 cancer drugs and I have had multiple surgeries. Spine surgery, lung surgery, breast surgery. I took radiation,” Dikla said. “I am grateful to still be her but it’s a lot of time and effort and dealing with side effects and quality of life issues.”
She enrolled in a new clinical trial at UCLA Health, testing an experimental drug known as T-DXd.
“It’s an antibody which specifically targets an aggressive form of breast cancer, and linked to that antibody is a very potent chemotherapy. So the chemotherapy is directly delivered to the cancer cells,” Dr. Sara Hurvitz of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In New York: Walk-In Appointments Offered To All New Yorkers Over 50 At City-Run Sites
The findings were made public at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Dr. Hurvitz is an author of the study, which looked at more than 200 patients.
“We saw over 60 percent of patients have a response and the progression-free survival, mean how long patients were able to live without their disease growing was over 16 months,” Dr. Hurvitz said.
Some patients suffered lung inflammation as a side effect, which Dr. Hurvitz said can be managed with close monitoring and careful patient selection.
Dikla said she experienced nausea and fatigue but that improved as she continued treatment. Her cancer is now stable.
“Hasn’t grown. It hasn’t shrunk, but there are no new tumors and it’s staying stable, which is a good sign,” she said.
Dikla says new treatments translate to more time for cancer patients, which is what everyone wants.
The other drug that is showing promise targets breast cancer that has spread to the brain. Researchers treated more than 300 advanced breast cancer patients with brain tumors and one quarter were alive a year later and their tumors did not get worse.MORE NEWS: Discarded Tombstone Spotted On Empty Lot Raising Questions In Paramus
These drugs are experimental, and although they are well along in clinical trials, it could still be a while because of the side effects. And while the increased survival was measured in months, doctos say even that amount of time can be a blessing to women battling metastatic breast cancer.