I know that almost everyone fears cancer for tons of reasons, but the first thing that people always think of are the treatments: chemotherapy, radiation, and the horrible side effects. Breast cancer will be diagnosed in over 230,000 women in the US in 2013, and over 39,000 will die from the disease, and it is one of the top killers of women worldwide annually. With numbers like that, and previous treatment options, the fear is real. Since we have first started treated cancer, the goal was to kill the cancerous cells, prevent them from growing, spreading, and replicating, which meant that some of our healthy cells were eradicated as well. Depending on the type of cell that was being targeted, there are unwanted side effects, like loss of hair, nausea, vomiting, and pain as the most notable, and that is what makes people most fearful of cancer: the treatment. There is some good news though for women that suffer from non-hormone receptive, and aggressive forms of breast cancer; a new chemotherapy that works WITH your body and not against it!
It is a drug that has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is a completely new type of drug that specifically targets the cancer cells and leaves the healthy ones alone, so there are almost none of the harsh side-effects related to the death of healthy cells and the normal functioning of your body. As with any medication there are side effects such as nausea, fatigue, low platelets, impaired liver function, etc. It is called Kadcyla, and it is the mixture of three medications, one is a well-known and widely used chemotherapy agent, but one of the medications added binds the other two together, and is an antibody that keeps all of the medications bound, until it find the specific type of cell that it is looking to kill off, then the medications are released on those specific cells and it helps to slow growth and kill off the cancerous cells. It was showed to increase people’s lives by over 6 months as compared to other chemotherapy agents, which may not seem like that much, but when you aren’t vomiting constantly, feeling miserable, and losing all of your hair, it is a better quality of life, which is something you cannot put a price on.
What type of cancer does it treat?
It does seem almost too good to be true, but Kadcyla treats HER2 (Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor-2) specific cancers, which is a large number of breast cancers. It is mainly for breast cancers that are aggressive, with metastatic disease (cancer cells have spread to other areas of the body), that have not responded to other hormonal treatments. Especially while it is newly approved, they will have strict treatment guidelines, but as more trials are done on the drug, there may be more options for treatments and a wider array of patients may benefit.
So, while this drug is not targeted at a huge number of cancer victims, this very moment, it is a huge breakthrough in the treatment of cancer that it can help to target tumor specific cells and bypass the healthy cells, preventing most of the horrible side effects that make people miserable during their treatments. Now that this has been created and approved for use by the FDA, other drugs can be created using this technology for other types of cancer cells; we are one step closer to curing cancer altogether!
Yours in Good Health