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Breast cancer sufferers may be spared chemotherapy

Breast cancer icon

Some breast tumours are HER2 positive – this means they have high amounts of the HER2 molecule on their surface. Women with this type of breast cancer are generally treated with surgery, chemotherapy and drugs targeting HER2 like trastuzumab (Herceptin) and lapatinib (Tyverb).

New results from a Cancer Research UK funded clinical trial found that some women’s cancers responded well to a combination of Herceptin and lapatinib before surgery – in some case their breast cancer vanished without a trace. It could mean that these women wouldn’t need chemotherapy after their surgery. This will need to be confirmed with longer follow-up and clinical trials, and researchers still need to find a way to identify who is likely to benefit from this pre-surgery combination.