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Two New Drugs Could be Effective for Advanced Breast Cancer

Update Date: Apr 07, 2014 11:00 AM EDT

Advanced stages of cancer are generally more difficult to treat due to the progression of the disease, which is why detecting cancers earlier on is vital. However, since not all cases are diagnosed early, better treatment options need to be developed for these later stages of cancer. In recent news, drug-manufacturing company, Eli Lilly and Co. announced that results from an early trial suggested that the company's breast cancer drug was effective in treating advanced breast cancer.

"This is a novel oral treatment for patients with metastatic breast cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Amita Patnaik, the associate director of clinical research at South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics in San Antonio reported by Philly. "Our results show that it can be given safely over a long period of time, and patients are able to go on with their routine activities and have a good quality of life."

In this phase 1 trial, the researchers tested the effects of bemaciclib on 132 female breast cancer patients whose tumors have spread to other regions of the body. 47 of these patients with metastatic cancer had tried seven other drugs prior to entering the trial. The patients took bemaciclib twice a day for 28 days.

The team found that the drug was able to maintain tumor growth in 50 percent of the patients. 25 percent of the patients had their tumors shrink due to the medication. The researchers believe that if future trials yield similar results, the drug could significantly extend the lifespan for women with terminal breast cancer. Bemaciclib works by targeting and attacking specific cells. Some of the side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In the study, these side effects were mostly mild or moderate.

In recent news, another breast cancer drug created by Pfizer Inc. called palbocicblib was also effective in extending the lifespan of patients with breast cancer. The researchers reported that the median time before the cancer grew or before the patient died was 20.2 months for the drug group and only 10.2 months for the control group. The results came from a mid-stage study of the drug and involved 164 patients.

"The magnitude of benefit we are seeing is not something commonly seen in cancer medicine studies," said Dr. Richard S. Finn, an oncologist at the University of California Los Angeles, reported by the Boston Globe. Finn added that the results were "quite groundbreaking."

Both trials' findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in San Diego, CA.

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