A new study is giving some hope to breast cancer patients in very advanced stages of the disease.
The study suggests a combination of two new-generation cancer drugs modestly delayed the time it took for the disease to worsen in 300 women who had stopped responding to other treatments.
It was the first test of these two highly targeted drugs, Herceptin and Tykerb. Both aim at a protein that is made in abnormally large quantities in about one-fourth of all breast cancers. Herceptin blocks the protein on the cell's surface; Tykerb does it inside the cell.
In the study, women getting the combo survived 12 weeks without their cancer worsening compared to eight weeks for those receiving Tykerb alone.
Dr. Joyce O'Shaughnessy of Baylor-Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas led the study, which was released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She has consulted in the past for its sponsor, British-based GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Tykerb.