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2 Pre-Surgery Drug Treatments Show Promise Against Aggressive Breast Cancer

In studies, combo regimens produced better results for 'triple-negative' disease


The researchers randomly assigned 443 patients with triple-negative breast cancer to one of the four groups. Those in the combination groups were more likely to have no breast cancer cells found at surgery than those in the standard groups. While 42 percent of those in the standard group had no breast cancer cells identified at surgery, 50 percent to 67 percent of those in the combination groups did not.

Genentech, which makes Avastin, funded Sikov's study. Other supporters included the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The research presented by Rugo is funded by a variety of sources, included unrestricted funding from several pharmaceutical companies.

"Every time we have studies like this, it tells us we are on to something," said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of women's cancer programs at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif. She reviewed the findings. While the approaches warrant further investigation, she cautions that ''both these studies have very small numbers."

Complicating the issue, she said, is that "triple-negative is not a single disease." There are several subtypes, and patients respond differently to treatments. "This [research] is very interesting, but until we know which actual specific patient's tumors are going to benefit, it's hard to apply this to the population," Mortimer said.

Studies presented at medical conferences are considered preliminary since they have not yet had the independent scrutiny required for publication in most medical journals.

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