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U.S. Oncologists Decry High Cost of Cancer Drugs

Posted 23 Jul 2015 by

THURSDAY, July 23, 2015 – Soaring costs for cancer drugs are hurting patient care in the United States, a group of top oncologists claim. "High cancer-drug prices are affecting the care of patients with cancer and our health care system," Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said in a Mayo news release. Tefferi and his colleagues made a number of recommendations on how to address the problem in a commentary published July 23 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices is one of the suggestions the team of 118 leading cancer experts offered as a possible solution. Along with their recommendations, the group also expressed support for a patient-based grassroots movement on that is demanding action on the issue. "The average gross household income in the U.S. is about $52,000 per year. For an insured patient with ... Read more

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Herceptin May Benefit Some Women With Early Breast Cancer

Posted 8 Jan 2015 by

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7, 2015 – For some women with early breast tumors, lower-dose chemotherapy and the drug Herceptin may help ward off a cancer recurrence, a new study suggests. Experts said the findings, published in the Jan. 8 New England Journal of Medicine, could offer the first standard treatment approach for women in the early stages of HER2-positive breast cancer. HER2 is a protein that helps breast cancer cells grow and spread, and about 15 to 20 percent of breast cancers are HER2-positive, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Herceptin (trastuzumab) – one of the newer, so-called "targeted" cancer drugs – inhibits HER2. But while Herceptin is a standard treatment for later-stage cancer, it wasn't clear whether it helps women with small, stage 1 breast tumors that have not spread to the lymph nodes. Women with those cancers have a relatively low risk of recurrence ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Herceptin Boosts Survival for Breast Cancer, Study Reports

Posted 20 Oct 2014 by

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 – Adding the drug Herceptin to chemotherapy for certain breast cancer patients increases overall survival and reduces the risk of recurrence compared to chemotherapy alone, new research shows. The study found that adding a year of Herceptin (trastuzumab) to standard chemotherapy improved overall survival by 37 percent. The addition of Herceptin also boosted 10-year overall survival rates from 75 percent to 84 percent. And the 10-year disease-free survival rate went from 62 percent to 74 percent for those also taking Herceptin, the study found. The women who were given Herceptin were patients with a type of breast cancer known as HER2-positive, said study author Dr. Edith Perez at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. Up to 20 percent of invasive breast cancers are HER2-positive, according to background information in the study. Too much human epidermal growth ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Medicines Are Biggest Culprit in Fatal Allergic Reactions: Study

Posted 10 Oct 2014 by

THURSDAY, Oct. 9, 2014 – Although food allergies have garnered a lot of attention lately, a new study reports that medications are actually the biggest cause of sudden deaths related to allergy. Over a little more than a decade, nearly 60 percent of the allergy-related deaths were caused by medications, while less than 7 percent were caused by food allergies, the study found. "Medications can be dangerous," said study researcher Dr. Elina Jerschow, director of the Drug Allergy Center at Montefiore Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City. While research from other countries has reported medications as a major culprit in anaphylaxis-related deaths, Jerschow said, the problem has been less defined in the United States. One reason is that there is no national registry for anaphylaxis deaths, she said. The study was ... Read more

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Herceptin Best for Certain Breast Cancer Patients, Study Says

Posted 30 Sep 2014 by

TUESDAY, Sept. 30, 2014 – Herceptin is the best drug treatment for a type of breast cancer called HER2-positive and should remain the standard of care for that type of tumor, according to new findings from a long-term clinical trial. HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic. For the study, more than 8,300 patients in 44 countries received either Herceptin (trastuzumab) or Tykerb (lapatinib) in addition to standard chemotherapy. After 4.5 years of follow-up, 14 percent of patients who took Herceptin and 18 percent of those who took Tykerb had at least one disease "event" – breast cancer recurrence anywhere in the body, a new cancer, or death from any cause. Heart safety was rated good for both groups of patients. And there was no difference in the rate of cancer spreading from the breast to the brain, study ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Drug Gives Big Survival Boost Against Type of Advanced Breast Cancer

Posted 29 Sep 2014 by

MONDAY, Sept. 29, 2014 – Adding the drug Perjeta to a standard medication, Herceptin, may give women with a form of advanced breast cancer a significant boost in survival, a new study finds. The finding is limited to patients with tumors called HER2-positive that have spread (metastasized). And experts say that this type of treatment-linked boost in survival – an average of nearly 16 extra months of life – is very rare in cancer research. Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, described the new findings as "extremely exciting." "Great strides have been made in treating breast cancer, and it is particularly encouraging that we now have additional treatment to offer patients with HER2-positive metastatic disease that extends survival," she said. "Treatment regimens continue to become more tailored to a patient's individual cancer, ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Breast Cancer, Metastatic, Herceptin, Perjeta

Breast Cancer Drug Herceptin Linked to Risk of Heart Problems: Study

Posted 10 Jun 2014 by

MONDAY, June 9, 2014 – As many as one in 10 women taking the breast cancer drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) will experience some type of heart problem, according to new research. The good news from this study is that these problems typically reverse once treatment is finished. "The overall message here is one of tremendous reassurance," said study researcher Dr. Brian Leyland-Jones, vice president of molecular and experimental medicine at Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls, S.D. The study was published June 9 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology online. Roche, the maker of Herceptin, provided research funding. Some of the study's co-authors work for Roche or are advisers or consultants. Herceptin is used in breast cancers that test positive for HER 2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. Herceptin kills the cells, and is known to boost ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Heart Failure, Congestive Heart Failure, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Some Breast Cancer Patients May Get Drug-Linked Heart Failure: Study

Posted 3 Jun 2014 by

TUESDAY, June 3, 2014 – More than one in 10 older breast cancer patients treated with certain chemotherapy drugs develop heart failure, but many don't get proper treatment for their heart condition, a new study suggests. "The majority of older women who develop heart problems after their breast cancer therapy aren't treated by a cardiologist, and they had lower quality of care," study lead author Dr. Jersey Chen, a research scientist and cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Rockville, Md., said in an American Heart Association news release. The study was to be presented Tuesday at an American Heart Association meeting in Baltimore. Chen's team analyzed Medicare data on 8,400 breast cancer patients older than 65 who were treated either with chemotherapy drugs called anthracyclines, or a targeted therapy called trastuzumab. Prior research has linked both of these treatments to heart ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Heart Failure, Congestive Heart Failure, Herceptin, Adriamycin, Epirubicin, Doxorubicin, Doxil, Lipodox, Daunorubicin, Adriamycin PFS, Doxorubicin Liposomal, Pharmorubicin PFS, Cerubidine, Valstar, Mitoxantrone, Valrubicin, Idamycin, Novantrone, Adriamycin RDF

Certain Breast Cancer Patients May Need Little Treatment After Tumor Removal

Posted 3 Jun 2014 by

MONDAY, June 2, 2014 – Breast cancer patients with small-sized "HER2-positive" tumors have a low risk of cancer recurrence, even without chemotherapy and an especially potent drug called trastuzumab, a new study finds. HER2-positive breast cancer, which accounts for 15 percent to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases in the United States, has been shown to respond well to the antibody medication trastuzumab. However, the drug can cause heart failure in some patients, particularly those who are older and have other diseases, the authors of the new study noted. "Our results suggest that trastuzumab therapy may not be needed for patients with HER2-positive tumors that are 0.5 centimeters in size or smaller," lead author Dr. Lou Fehrenbacher, medical director of Kaiser Permanente Oncology Clinical Trials and oncologist with Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center, said in a Kaiser news ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Experts Issue Treatment Guidelines for Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer

Posted 6 May 2014 by

MONDAY, May 5, 2014 – Two sets of guidelines for treating patients with an aggressive form of breast cancer have been released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). According to ASCO, about 15 percent to 20 percent of breast cancers are known as "HER2-positive," meaning that they carry high levels of the HER2 protein, which causes tumor cells to grow and divide faster than happens with most other breast cancers. This means that HER2-positive cases are especially aggressive and tough to treat. However, doctors now "have several treatments for advanced HER2-positive breast cancer, all of which are associated with improved survival," Dr. Eric Winer, co-chair of the expert panel that developed the guidelines, said in an ASCO news release. "We're very fortunate that now we have multiple studies that give us a clear picture of how these newer agents should be used." In the ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Tykerb, Pertuzumab, Perjeta, Lapatinib, Trastuzumab

New Treatment for Aggressive Breast Cancer Shows Some Promise

Posted 11 Dec 2013 by

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 11, 2013 – Women with aggressive breast cancer who receive combination targeted therapy with chemotherapy prior to surgery have a slightly improved chance of staying cancer-free, researchers say. However, the improvement was not statistically significant and the jury is still out on combination treatment, said lead researcher Dr. Martine Piccart-Gebhart, chair of the Breast International Group, in Brussels. "I don't think that tomorrow we should switch to a new standard of care," she said. Piccart-Gebhart presented her findings Wednesday at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, alongside other research that investigated ways to improve treatment for women with HER2-positive breast cancer. This aggressive form of cancer is linked to a genetic irregularity. Other researchers reported the following: The targeted drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) worked better in ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Carboplatin, Taxotere, Docetaxel, Tykerb, Docefrez, Carboplatin Novaplus, Trastuzumab, Paraplatin, Lapatinib

Cancer Chemotherapy Tied to Slight Rise in Risk for Leukemia

Posted 14 Feb 2013 by

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 – Chemotherapy can be a lifesaver for thousands of cancer patients, but a new study suggests that it might slightly raise the odds for a type of leukemia later in life. Over the past 30 years, the risk for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has increased for patients who underwent chemotherapy for certain forms of cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the new study found. On the other hand, the researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute said other cancer survivors may have a reduced risk for AML due to a change in chemotherapy agents that occurred decades ago. One expert not connected to the study stressed that cancer patients need to put the findings into perspective. "It's important to realize that the risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia related to prior chemotherapy is small and increases with the number of chemotherapy treatments given over time," ... Read more

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No Benefit Seen in Extending Herceptin for Breast Cancer

Posted 7 Dec 2012 by

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 – For women with a specific type of breast cancer, taking Herceptin for a year after initial treatment is just as effective – and safer – than staying on it for a longer period, new research suggests. Many of the women in the study, who had HER2-postive early stage breast cancer, were cancer-free eight years later and experienced no major heart problems, the international study on Herceptin (trastuzumab) found. "Giving trastuzumab for [two years] did not improve disease-free or overall survival, compared with one year of trastuzumab treatment," study author Dr. Martine Piccart, president of the European Society for Medical Oncology and chairwoman of the Breast International Group, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research. The study was run by the Breast International Group and Roche, the maker of Herceptin. HER2-positive cancers are a ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Herceptin May Carry Higher Heart Risks for Women Than Thought

Posted 15 Nov 2012 by

THURSDAY, Nov. 15 – The risks of developing heart problems while taking the breast cancer drug Herceptin alone or with other anti-cancer drugs may be even higher for older women than thought, new research indicates. Herceptin (trastuzumab) has long been used to treat breast cancers that overproduce HER-2, also known as human epidermal growth factor. The drug improves disease-free and overall survival, but experts have known that it increases the risk of heart failure because it can affect the ability of the heart to pump blood. It can also raise the chances of developing cardiomyopathy, where the heart muscle becomes enlarged or rigid. Now, a new study that focused on women aged 67 and older has found that the risk may be higher than believed. The report is published online Nov. 14 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. For older women, the message is this, said study ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

Breast Cancer Drug May Harm the Heart More Than Thought

Posted 30 Aug 2012 by

THURSDAY, Aug. 30 – Women with breast cancer who are treated with the cancer drug Herceptin may have more long-term cardiac problems than experts have thought, new research suggests. It has been known that women treated with anti-cancer drugs known as anthracyclines and Herceptin (trastuzumab) are at higher risk for heart failure and cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle. But, that information on risks has come primarily from clinical trials, which typically exclude women aged 70 and older and those with co-existing chronic diseases, so it doesn't necessarily give a real-world picture, the researchers noted. "The risk of heart failure associated with these drugs might be higher than what has been shown in clinical trials," explained study author Erin Aiello Bowles, an epidemiologist at Group Health Research Institute, in Seattle. Her report is published online Aug. 30 in the ... Read more

Related support groups: Breast Cancer, Herceptin, Trastuzumab

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