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A Review of Progress Treating her2 positive Cancer

Posted 5/29/2014

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  The discovery of herceptin may be the single most important treatment advance in breast cancer. Approximately 20% of all breast cancers are her2 positive, and they used to be really bad cancers to get. Even before the her2 protein had been identified, these were known to be particularly lethal cancers. Women were treated with surgery and chemotherapy and radiation, but far too many died--and died quite quickly.

  There are now a number of other targeted therapies available for her2 positive breast cancers, cousins of herceptin in you will. I have heard oncologists say that these may now be the "best" breast cancers to get as there are so many very effective drugs available. (Note: neither of my breast cancers was her2 positive, so I never have found this comment very soothing.)

  This is an excellent review of these advances from Living Beyond Breast Cancer. I give you the start and a link to read more:

How Far We’ve Come: Treating HER2-Positive Breast Cancer With Targeted Therapies
Published in the Spring 2014 issue of LBBC's national newsletter, Insight

Written By Josh Fernandez, Writer and Web Content Coordinator
Reviewed By Nancy U. Lin, MD

In February 2004, twenty years after Claudia Feigner, of Westport Wash., was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, scans revealed she had metastases in her lung and lymph nodes. Advances in tumor testing since her initial diagnosis showed the cancer was HER2-positive. This meant she could take the medicine trastuzumab (Herceptin), developed specifically to treat the disease.

“It’s like a miracle drug,” Claudia, 63, says. “Scans early on showed improvement in my lung and lymph-node mets, and after 1 year I had no active cancer. If it had not been available when I was diagnosed [with stage IV disease], my outcome could have been a lot different.”

Claudia is among many people worldwide who have been treated with trastuzumab. The medicine changed how doctors think about and treat HER2-positive breast cancer.

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