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New Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment OK'd

FDA Approves Gemzar in Combination With Taxol for Advanced Breast Cancer

WebMD Health News

May 26, 2004 -- The FDA has approved a new drug combination for use as first-line chemotherapy treatment for women with advanced breast cancer.

Now the drug Gemzar in combination with Taxol will be an added weapon in the arsenal to treat women with metastatic breast cancer (breast cancer that has spread).

"The Gemzar/Taxol combination is one of the few combinations to surpass the single-agent efficacy of Taxol," says researcher Paolo Paoletti, MD, vice president of oncology clinical research at Eli Lilly and Company, in news release. "In a disease that is marked by high recurrence rates, this added benefit is welcome news to patients and physicians." Eli Lilly, which manufactures Gemzar, is a WebMD sponsor.

Researchers say about 40% of breast cancer patients will develop metastatic breast cancer after receiving treatment for the disease. The average survival time after the diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is 1.5 to 2.5 years.

Cancer Progression Slowed

The FDA based its approval on clinical trials that showed metastatic breast cancer patients treated with a combination of Gemzar and Taxol experienced a significant delay in the time it took for their breast cancer to return compared with patients using Taxol alone. Specifically, the average time to disease progression or spread was five months in the group treated with the combination compared with nearly three months in the Taxol group.

The approval states that the Gemzar-Taxol combination is approved for the first-line of treatment for people with metastatic breast cancer after other cancer treatments containing anthracycline (such as adriamycin which is often used for breast cancer) have failed, or if anthracyclines are not suitable for the patient.

Gemzar has previously been approved for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and certain types of lung cancer. It works by preventing cancer cells from replicating and slowing tumor growth.

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