Health Alert: Chemo combo

NATIONAL - Women surviving with recurrent breast cancer are becoming more common. There's a new treatment that helps patients manage and control advanced recurrent breast cancer without the side effects of chemo.

Enjoying moments with her husband is a daily grace for Margie Rogers as she battles breast cancer for the second time.

She said, "Well I was very upset, needless to say. I had just met Raymond the Christmas before and we were dating."

Margie's living a contented life while managing her breast cancer as a chronic condition.

Dr. Charles Geyer, Jr., says, "When women develop recurrence of breast cancer, you frequently, ultimately get the question, 'how much time do I have?' And the honest answer is we really have no idea. When we didn't have therapies, we unfortunately had a very good idea."

A study aimed at increasing the lifespan for this group compared the chemotherapy drug, xeloda, to a combination of xeloda and tykerb, a new drug that targets the Her-2 protein.

Dr. Geyer says, "There's an activating, almost an electrical signal, that gets amplified through the Her2 molecule and the tykerb gets in and cuts that signal off."

By interrupting that growth signal, the combination improved time without progression of disease by 50 percent.

Dr. Geyer says, "Adding the tykerb didn't seem to increase side effects to a large degree. So you got both sides: better therapy without a lot of extra toxicity."

In this "maintenance" phase, Margie's keeping her expectations level, "I don't have any illusions about what might be down the line, I, I don't, because it's there. It's not going to go away. But, every day that I get's another day."

And each day is a gift to cherish. Margie takes five tykerb pills each morning, and can keep taking them as long they help maintain her condition.

The combination treatment of xeloda and tykerb received approval from the FDA in March for treating women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Posted by Bryce Mursch