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FDA Approves New Therapy to Extend Breast Cancer Patient's Lives

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:12 PM CDT

Stage IV metastatic breast cancer used to be considered a death sentence, but not anymore. Cancer research continues to make strides. In February, the Federal Drug Administration approved a new, personalized medicine that can help patients live longer. The new drug targets cancerous cells without harming healthy ones.

Beth Benge was diagnosed with advanced, metastatic breast cancer in February of last year. "There were times when I was feeling great and wanted to do everything I could, but then when I was sick, it was bad," said Benge. She was 48 years old at the time.

Until two months ago, Benge was out of treatment options. "The hardest thing was telling the folks, but they've been amazing. I'm really fortunate they are amazing people," said Benge.

A new FDA approved medicine gives her and her family hope. "I'm no longer at the end of the road," said Benge.

"Within Texas Oncologist we had TDM-1 on clinical trials," said Benge's oncologist, Dr. Debra Patt. TDM-1 is a targetted therapy. "TDM-1 or Adotrastuzumab is a drug only for patients with metastatic breast cancer who have HER2/Neu amplified disease," said Dr. Patt.

Unlike traditional chemotherapy, Adotrastuzumab works like a smart bomb attacking only cancerous cells. "What it does is it links something that it identifies as HER2/Neu cells, the antibody portion to a toxin," said Dr. Patt.

By targetting, Dr. Patt says it protects healthy cells causing fewer side effects, "The most frequent side effect is a low platelet count and that happened about 29% of the time."

"It's a huge, huge inovation to come up with some chemotherapy to target cancer and to not have that kind of collaterol damage, huge," said Benge. It's so huge, Dr. Patt says Adotrastuzumab can extend a patient's life, "We know that it changes the overall survival by six months."

"When they first started out it expanded life three months. Now it's expanding life six months," said Benge. "What are they going to come up with in a year."

The research offers a sense of relief to patients. "I think it gives them a lot of hope for an opportunity to live a relatively normal life," said Dr. Patt.

Adotrastuzumab goes by the trade name Kadcyla. It is given as IV infusion every 21 days.

Click here for more information on the new treatment.

Next Friday at 6 a.m., we continue our series on breast cancer awareness with which patients are more prone to getting a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after a cancer diagnosis.

Our series leads up to the fundraiser Art Bra Austin on May 18th which raises money for the Breast Cancer Resource Center. For more information, go to the BCRC's website.

--Deeda Payton, KEYE TV News.

FDA Approves New Therapy to Extend Breast Cancer Patient's Lives

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