Breakthrough drugs

From the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium comes news that Taxotere usage on breast cancer sufferers improved 5-year survival from 81 per cent (on FAC - standard treatment) to 87 per cent. 75 per cent of women on Taxotere were symptom free after 5 years. The drug is currently not licensed for early use - only late use.

Open quotesIt costs £6,000 more per woman than current treatmentsClose quotes

Professor Robert Colman of Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield thinks these are enormously important results and was concerned that it was not widely available within the NHS. It costs £6,000 more per woman than current treatments.

Arimidex treatment for 12 weeks will shrink a tumour sufficiently in 43 per cent of women, to allow lumpectomy rather than complete mastectomy (European Breast Cancer Conference).

Femora cuts the ’risk of dying’ by 39 per cent in post menopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. Professor Ian Smith of the Royal Marsden looked at Femara (also known as letrozole), which, like Arimidex, reduces oestrogen production. Other centres in Britain, Canada and the US took part in the study. Side effects included osteoporosis.

In 2004, in a study co-ordinated by Cancer Research UK, patients who switched from Tamoxifen to another oestrogen inhibitor, exemestane, halfway through treatment cut their risk of the cancer returning by a third.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in New Orleans have been told that MabThera given to Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients results in 95 per cent of patients under 60 being alive 2 years later. Apparently statistics show 80 per cent of such patients can consider themselves then ’cured’, (Ed: Do they know which 80 per cent?)

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