Thursday, July 15, 2010

Increase your survival opportunity, whilst fighting Breast cancer with this new TREATMENT.

A new breast cancer treatment drug that comes from sea sponges has been found to extend the life of breast cancer patients whose cancer recurred even after five rounds of chemo, by an average of 10 weeks. That might not sound like much, but in the world of the seriously ill facing death, those extra days and weeks are beyond price.

Eribulin is a new compound discovered and developed by Eisai. It is naturally derived compound that came from a marine sponge and is used as a chemo drug that works against the scaffolding that protects cancer cells, interfering with cell division and causing the cells to die off instead. This approach is used by older chemotherapy medications (taxanes) that work on a different part of the scaffolding.

The study involved 762 breast cancer patients whose tumors had spread despite chemotherapy, two thirds of them took the experimental drug eribulin given in a two to five minute IV infusion on day 1 and day 8 of a 21 day cycle.

The rest got whatever treatment (chemo, hormonal or biological therapy) their oncologist thought best. Sometimes this was another chemotherapy agent, in other cases only supportive care for pain and fatigue.

Eribulin takers lived an average of about 13 months, and were 19% less likely to die. Their cancer stayed in control a bit longer - 3.7 months vs. 2.2 months. Tumors shrank by 30% (or more) in 12.2% of women taking the drug, vs. 4.7% of women in the other group.

After skin cancer, cancer of the breast is the most common cancer in U.S. women though rates have fallen in recent years. Women fear it, and we're encouraged to do monthly self exams and undergo annual screenings in an effort to detect such cancers early.

Despite all this, during 2010 an estimated 207,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and though rarer, nearly 2,000 men. Earlier diagnosis and better treatments are giving these patients the best chance yet of long-term survival.

Still, almost a third will develop metastatic disease that can't be cured with the treatments we have today. For these patients eribulin is another much-needed option.

The downside?

About 4% of those taking eribulin did develop a potentially life threatening condition known as febrile neutropenia that brings fever, infection and low white blood cell count. This was about three times the rate of women getting standard treatment. Overall, the rate of serious side effects was the same in both groups, affecting one in four of the women.

The more common side effects of eribulin are fatigue, weakness, low white blood cell counts, hair loss and nausea - familiar to most chemotherapy patients today.

However, only 4.8% of women had to stop the treatment due to side effects.

If you're interested in eribulin, you need to talk with your oncologist. This may be one of the last chemotherapy agents approved for breast cancer as most of the newer drugs (Herceptin and Tykerb) work differently, targeting specific molecular defects that fuel some types of tumors.

As a new breast cancer treatment, Eribulin has gotten a priority review for approval by the FDA, putting the medication on the fast track to approval within just 6 months compared to the standard ten months.