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Dual drug 'fights breast cancer'

A combination of two drugs is highly effective at keeping some women with breast cancer free of the disease, say researchers.

Almost 99% of women given the Herceptin-Taxol combination remained cancer-free for at least three years after treatment, a study found.

The trial looked at the effect of the two drugs in patients with a specific type of breast cancer that responds to Herceptin. All had lower-grade tumours that had not spread to the lymph nodes.

Around one in four women with breast cancer have tumours characterised by the HER2 protein. Although they can be treated with Herceptin, the drug is normally reserved for those at higher risk.

The new study showed that giving lower-risk women with HER2 breast cancer Herceptin plus the chemotherapy drug Taxol was highly effective with few adverse side effects.

Of the 406 patients studied, fewer than 4% experienced serious complications in the form of nerve damage and temporary heart failure.

"This is great news for patients and their physicians," said professor Kathy Albain, from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois, who presented the findings at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

"This study identifies a new treatment option for this population of patients that is highly effective and has minimal side effects."


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