Saturday, May 19, 2018

New regimen could cut cost of breast cancer treatment in half

Herceptin has been shown to prolong survival in about 12
percent of women whose breast cancer is positive for the
gene HER2 and has not spread to other parts of the body.
Image courtesy Roche Pharmaceuticals
CANCER DIGEST – May 19, 2018 – A new study shows that treatment with half as much of an expensive breast cancer drug is just as effective as the current treatment regimen.

The study of 4,088 women with HER2-positive, early stage breast cancer showed that 89.4% of women treated for just 6 months with the expensive drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) remained disease free compared to 89.9% of the women treated for 12 months with the drug. The difference is not trivial with a drug that costs about $54,000 per month. In addition only 4% of women in the 6-month group had to stop the taking the drug due to heart problems compared to 8% in the 12-month group. The women in the study also received chemotherapy while on the trial and were followed for a median of 5 years.

The Persephone Trial results will be presented at the American of Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) meeting June 1-5, 2018 in Chicago. It is the largest trial to date to examine the impact of shorter duration treatment with Herceptin.

"The Persephone trial's researchers worked closely with patient advocates. Everyone involved in this study is very excited by these results," said lead study author Helena Earl, MD, Professor of Clinical Cancer Medicine at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. "We are confident that this will mark the first steps towards a reduction of the duration of trastuzumab treatment to 6 months in many women with HER2-positive breast cancer."

The researchers currently further analyzing the results to determine how the treatment length may also affect quality of life after treatment, as well as the cost-effectiveness of the regimen.

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