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Cocktail of powerful drugs may kill breast tumours, doctors discover

By Jane Kirby

Combining two powerful breast cancer drugs could dramatically shrink or destroy tumours in just 11 days, British doctors have discovered.

Some patients with HER2 positive breast cancer may be spared chemotherapy if they are given the drugs straight after diagnosis and before they have surgery.

Around 15% to 25% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have HER2, which tends to grow more quickly than some other types of breast cancer.

Researchers have discovered that combining the drugs Tyverb (lapatinib) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) and giving them to women before surgery could lead to tumours shrinking significantly or even disappearing.

In a clinical trial some of the women who responded well to the treatment also had cancer that had already spread to their lymph nodes.

Presenting their findings at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam, experts described the findings as exciting.

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