Health Team

New Drug May Help Prevent Breast Cancer Recurrences

Women who are successfully treated for breast cancer still have a chance that the cancer will come back. Researchers are now studying an experimental drug to see if it can keep breast cancer at bay.

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About four years ago, Christy Laurendeau was shocked to learn she had an aggressive form of breast cancer called HER-2 Positive.

 "I was a person who exercised, at well, took vitamins, and I looked at my neighbors and I was like, 'Why me?'" Laurendeau said.

Laurendeau had surgery and chemotherapy, but she's still at high risk of recurrence. So she enrolled in a new international study to see whether a new experimental drug called Tykerb can help lower that risk.

Women with HER-2 Positive breast cancer have cancer cells that can spread quickly. The cells grow and multiply by pulling power from the body.

"It's like an electrical circuit that's turned on, and Tykerb can pull the lever, the circuit breaker and switch it off," said Dr. Paul Goss with Massachusetts General Hospital.

Earlier studies showed that Tykerb may be even more effective and have fewer side effects than a similar breast cancer drug called Herceptin, which is delivered intravenously at a hospital.

"We're seeing Tykerb -- which is a pill, which is easier to take -- has a broader attack and gets inside the cells," said Dr. Goss.

Laurendeau said she hopes Tykerb turns out to be a superior drug.

"It would mean everything to my family and my children," she said.

If the drug proves to be effective in clinical trials, it could then go to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

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