Doctors research drug combo to fight certain breast cancer

By Phil Rainier - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Scientists think two drugs could spell hope for women with a certain kind of breast cancer. There's a new round of research underway in Baton Rouge.

For women with Her2-positive breast cancer, the drug Herceptin was a huge advance in treatment. Now, through a study called The Beth Trial, doctors at the Baton Rouge General Pennington Cancer Center are adding another powerful drug to the mix some Her-2 patients are getting Avastin.

"We're aiming at improving disease-free survival." Dr. Georgia Reine is a cancer specialist at the cancer center. Used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy, Reine says Herceptin directly attacks and kills breast cancer cells, while Avastin works by cutting off blood flow to tumors. That makes the combo a powerful one-two punch.

She says there's no really downside to for patients like Tracey who signed up to try the experimental treatment. "Newer agents that don't enhance side effects but enhance activity in terms of destroying cancer cells and improving survival." Like any study, when Tracey signed up, she didn't know whether she'd be getting the new combo therapy or put on the traditional track. Patients are assigned randomly in hopes the results will show which treatment is better.

Turns out, she's not getting the Herceptin-Avastin mix. But, she says that's okay. "We need to find a cure for this disease." Only about 20% of patients have breast tumors that are Her2-positive, which would make the eligible for The Beth Trial. To find out more about The Beth Trial, you can contact the Pennington Cancer Center at Baton Rouge General.