Health Canada has approved a new treatment for women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose tumours overexpress HER2 and who have progressed after prior therapies.
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Host: In May 2004 when Cecile Comeau heard the news that her breast cancer had returned for a second time, the bad news turn to worse when her oncologist said she was out of options to treat her disease. Cecile Comeau: My oncologist told me that they couldn't do nothing for me, no more that this was it. I had reached the end. Host: When her oncologist asked if she wanted to join a new clinical trial, Cecile didn't hesitate. Cecile Comeau: When you have nothing to loose -- for me it was so important to try anything and everything, but that was my way to fight back. I had no other way to fight back. Host: The trial involved a new treatment for her to positive breast cancer in the form of a pill called Tykerb. It's now been approved Health Canada for use in combination with an oral chemotherapy capecitabine for the treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer who's tumors overexpress HER2 to and who have progressed on a specific regimen of prior therapies. Dr. Kathleen Pritchard: All women with breast cancer have different markers on their tumors and HER2 is a marker of a particularly aggressive kind of breast cancer. It occurs in about 20% of all breast cancers and it makes the breast cancers grow faster and reoccur faster. Until about 10 years ago we had nothing to treat women with HER2 positive breast cancer, we got the drug Herceptin which has been a big advance, but many patients' tumors become resistant to that drug. Now Tykerb will provide an alternative for these women when their tumors no longer respond to Herceptin. Host: Tykerb is a targeted small molecule that works by getting inside the cancer cell and inhibits specific receptors which are involved in the growth and spreading of some cancers. Dr. Kathleen Pritchard: Many breast cancer therapies are given intravenously or through a needle into the vein and do to that the patient has to come into the center and have that done. I like to keep my patients out of the cancer center as much as I can when they are on treatment and a pill is obviously very useful in that setting. Host: Cecile has been very fortunate. Five years after joining the clinical trial she spends her time volunteering both for the weekend and breast cancer in raising money for her granddaughter's diving club. She is planning a camping trip with her husband this year. Cecile Comeau: People talk to be about birthdays and I am just proud to say I have got another birthday and I want many more birthdays to go. Host: For more information about breast cancer and treatment options speak with your doctor.

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