FDA Panel Backs Wider Use of Drug to Treat Early Stage Breast Cancer

Perjeta, which seems to shrink early stage tumors, might gain quick FDA approval

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Perjeta is one of many newer biologic agents used to treat breast cancer. "These biologic or 'targeted' treatments work on breast cancer cells in a more specific way than some older treatments so there are many fewer casualties to normal cells translating into many fewer side effects for our patients," Tiersten said.

About one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

According to the Mayo Clinic, HER2-positive breast cancer is a breast cancer driven by a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells.

HER2-positive breast cancers typically are more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. But there are effective drug treatments, including trastuzumab (brand name Herceptin) and lapatinib (Tykerb). Both drugs can produce side effects, including congestive heart failure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about early stage breast cancer.

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