New hope in fight against breast cancer

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A new experimental drug has been shown to prevent advanced breast cancer from getting worse in certain patients. By Jennifer Thomas A new experimental drug has been shown to prevent advanced breast cancer from getting worse in certain patients. By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- A new drug is bringing hope to patients with advanced breast cancer.

“On my very first mammogram, my cancer was diagnosed,” Christine Fenwick said.

It's been 16 years since Fenwick found out she had breast cancer. A shock, especially since there was no family history.
 
“Originally, it was in my right breast and I had a lumpectomy alone,” Fenwick said. “And then 18 months later, I had bilateral mastectomies.”

A life-changing event that now has her helping other breast cancer patients through a Valley organization called Arizona Institute for Breast Health.
 
“The ultimate goal is to find a cure for breast cancer and until we get them, we have to make sure we're our own advocates,” Fenwick said.

This is especially true when it comes to finding treatments. A new experimental drug known as T-DM1 has been shown to prevent advanced breast cancer from getting worse in certain patients. While it's only in clinical trials, the drug apparently not only delays the cancer's progression, but reduces side effects.

“This new drug combines with Herceptin and other chemotherapy drugs to make it even more effective,” Dr. Robert Kuske said. “Herceptin targets one part of the internal part of the cell and this drug targets another and the two together are a double whammy against the cancer cells.”

Kuske is the founder of Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists.

“What I think this means for my patients with breast cancer is stay tuned, because there are a lot more targeted therapies coming down the pike,” Kuske said.

As for Fenwick, she's a sign of hope that breast cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence.

“I had a 4-year-old daughter and now she's 21 years old,” Fenwick said. “We’re doing very well and I'm seeing her graduate from college this winter.”
 
The findings for the experimental drug were presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

For more information log onto, www.breastmd.com and www.aibh.org.