Doctors Recommend A New Complex Cancer Treatment – Part 2 of 3
Piccart-Gebhart reported that 84 percent of the patients who received the combination targeted therapy between 2008 and 2010 have remained cancer-free, compared with 76 percent who only received Herceptin. “It’s too originally today to say this dual treatment saves more lives. We can’t say that on the basis of this trial”. The drawbacks of this combination therapy are cost and side effects, Piccart-Gebhart said.
Targeted therapies expenditure tens of thousands of dollars, and combining the two drugs increases toxic side effects such as diarrhea and rash. “There is a price to pay in terms of face effects. There will be a price to pay in terms of drug costs”. This study was supported by funds from GlaxoSmithKline. Piccart-Gebhart has received honoraria from Roche, and her institution has received scrutiny funding from GlaxoSmithKline.
The second study involved 156 patients who received chemotherapy and Herceptin before surgery. However, this study focused on the levels of immune cells called lymphocytes that had infiltrated the chest tumors. For every 10 percent increase in the levels of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, there was a 16 percent increase in the number of patients whose breast tumors were eradicated, said lead researcher Dr Sherene Loi. Loi is a medical oncologist and chief of the translational breast cancer genomics lab at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Center in Melbourne, Australia.
She said Herceptin might not play tricks to activate the immune cells. However, her team found that not all women have high levels of these immune cells in their tumors. “Previously, breast cancer has not thought to be suitable for immunotherapy approaches. Our results give evidence that this could be a new strategy for treatment in breast cancer”. The third study compared the effectiveness of a combination chemotherapy using the drugs docetaxel and carboplatin against traditional chemotherapy with medications called anthracyclines.