A game-changing alternative of chemo-therapy in breast cancer


An unexpected wave of combination therapy came as a delight to the breast cancer patients. Fulvestrant-a selective estrogen receptor degrader (SERD) has been combined with palbociclib which is used for  the treatment of ER-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer. This combination of drug was found to be effectively slowing down the progression of breast cancer by nine months.

Institute of Cancer Research, UK led international study was conducted across 17 countries, 521 women were given either the combination of hormone drug fulvestrant with palbociclib or placebo along with fulvestrant. Women taking the new combination therapy noticed decrease in the progression of their cancer in an average time of 9.5 months compared to 4.6 months that was took by the other group.

67% of women taking the new combination of drug observed encouraging signs of improvement which includes either decrease in tumour size or delay in the progress of disease by six months. These results provided an opportunity to delay the use of  chemotherapy on patients by at least six months. According to the article published in Lancet Oncology medical journal, decrease in tumor size was observed in one out of five women.

Doctors found the combination effective in slowing down the pace of cancer growth in two third of women in advanced stages of their breast cancer which in turn delayed their need for chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy does not work selectively on the infected cells and therefore comes with lot of side effects like loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight gain and also other infections, so the treatment which can delay its onset would surely be embraced by the patients.

Dr Nicholas Turner, Institute of Cancer Research, led the study in the UK said “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”.

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