New Breast Cancer Drug Is a 'Real Breakthrough' that May Increase Survival and Halt Tumor Growth

A new metastatic breast cancer drug, Enhertu, improved the survival rate in patients by six months, according to a clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine

Breast Cancer Drug Trial Results in ‘Unheard-Of’ Survival
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A new drug used to treat metastatic breast cancer has shown to have remarkable success, improving the survival rate in patients by six months.

In a study published Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine, the experimental drug trastuzumab deruxtecan, which is sold as Enhertu, "resulted in significantly longer progression-free and overall survival than the physician's choice of chemotherapy."

According to the study, Enhertu targets and blocks HER2, a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells. For the clinical trial, researchers analyzed 557 patients with metastatic breast cancer who were categorized as HER2-low, having few HER2 cells.

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Doctors called the results "practice-changing" as the tumors of patients who took Enhertu stopped growing for 10.1 months compared to the 5.4 months of patients who underwent typical chemotherapy. Additionally, Enhertu increased the overall survival to 23.4 months compared to the 16.8 months for those undergoing standard treatments.

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Dr. Halle Moore, director of breast medical oncology at the Cleveland Clinic, told The New York Times that successful clinical trials typically add a few weeks of life and see no benefits for survival.

"It is unheard-of for chemotherapy trials in metastatic breast cancer to improve survival in patients by six months," Moore added.

Enhertu was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on May 4 for adult patients with unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer.

"This strategy is the real breakthrough," Dr. Eric Winer, a breast cancer specialist and director of the Yale Cancer Center, told the outlet. "This is about more than just this drug or even breast cancer. Its real advantage is that it enables us to take potent therapies directly to cancer cells."

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