Those affected with breast cancer always wish that they’d be given more time – time to live their dreams, to be with their loved ones or to settle their affairs. What if we told you that there is a drug available in the market that promise to do just that: delay the spread of breast cancer.
Although still in its early stages, Pfizer’s palbociclib is showing great promise for women with estrogen receptor positive, HER-2 negative breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Did you know that at least 60% of women fall under these categories? Before the discovery of this pill, these women had very bleak outcomes even with chemo and radiation therapy. Now, they have a reason to hope for a future.
Research has found that the 165 women in the study who took the pill in conjunction with another drug, Femara, all displayed slowed tumor growth when compared to taking Femara alone (which is today’s standard treatment). The combination has stopped the tumors from growing or spreading for a median of 20 months compared to today’s 10-11 month with Femara stand- alone therapies.
Cancer needs a protein called CDK to prosper and by targeting them specifically, palbociclib stunts their growth. Palbociclib has also been granted a “breakthrough” status by the Food and Drug Administration – a feat in itself for drugs that call under this category. For years, researchers have been wrestling with side effects that usually come with this type of drugs and palbociclib is the first to exhibit ‘manageable’ side effects like a low white blood cell count and fatigue which are commonly observed in patients undergoing chemotherapy.
While it is still early to be conclusive, researchers are excited for what this drug holds in the future for breast cancer patients. Its ability to slow down cancer growth can be used in conjunction with another drug or therapy that can kill the cancerous cells.
Cancer patients and their families are often shocked on how fast the cancer is able to spread and how even the harshest therapies don’t seem to do anything about it. Palbociclib literally buys time for the cancer-killing medication to work its magic without being overwhelmed by the invading cells.
We’re hoping for the best long term outcomes for these first 165 women in the trial. Palbociclib certainly has the potential to help all 400,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer every year.