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Duke Medicine: Duke pioneers gentler breast cancer drugs

Posted October 29, 2012 8:40 p.m. EDT

Dr. Kimberly Blackwell spends her weekends being a soccer mom, and her weekdays researching new treatments for breast cancer.

As a nationally renowned oncologist at the Duke Cancer Institute, and director of its Breast Cancer Program, Blackwell leads clinical trials new, more effective, and less toxic treatments for breast cancer. Her work on a new treatment for HER-2 breast cancer, which represents 20 percent of all invasive breast cancers, has drawn international attention.

The treatment is being called the “first smart bomb for breast cancer” because it links standard chemotherapy with a second drug that targets and is aimed at destroying breast cancer cells. Because it leaves healthy cells alone, the side effects typically associated with chemotherapy like nausea and hair loss are significantly reduced. The therapy also extended survival time.

“We’ve envisioned a world where cancer treatment would kill the cancer and not hurt the patient,” Blackwell told The New York Times. “This therapy does that.”

For more about Dr. Blackwell and her work, including a video interview, read the full post at Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.