Women that suffer from breast cancer were offered a new hope last week as trials of a new drug began testing on humans in the US and if proved effective, could be on sale within the next five years. Typically, women who have breast cancer are offered Herceptin but some patients became immune to this drug and it stopped working.
The most aggressive form of breast cancer is HER2 positive breast cancer and Herceptin is used most frequently in the treatment of this type of cancer. The problem is that a significant amount of tumours become resistant to this drug and once it has been used there are no other options available.
The new drug – Affitoxin, works to kill cancerous cells by preventing them from producing protein, and could offer another therapeutic option for those patients whose tumours no longer respond to Herceptin. The research, which was carried out at Philadelphia University, involved injecting mice who had large and aggressive tumours with Affitoxin and results showed that they stopped growing and most of them disappeared altogether.
Approximately 48,000 women in Britain are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and despite the use of Herceptin and increased screening and self examination, many still die from the disease. The reason for this is thought to be the fast growing tumours of the HER2-positive because of the large numbers of receptors they have for a particular protein.
As Affitoxin attacks the very cells that cause the proteins to multiply by delivering a bacterial toxin straight to them, it is thought that this drug may revolutionize breast cancer treatment. The research, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, has been hailed as one of the biggest break-throughs in treatment for breast cancer since the invention of Herceptin.
Jacek Capala at the National Cancer Institute in Philadelphia and colleagues had tried for many years to find an alternative to this drug and he commented, “Herceptin has revolutionized the treatment of patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, but a significant number of tumours acquire resistance to the drug,” said Dr Capala. “Affitoxin could offer another therapeutic option for those patients whose tumours no longer respond to Herceptin.”
Brastop.com give this advice for self examination of your breasts.
Examine the appearance of your breasts to look for any changes in the shape and outline of your breasts. While standing in front of a mirror, inspect your breasts in four different positions:
- Arms overhead
- Arms at your sides
- Hands at your hips
- Whilst bending forward
Look for any changes such as nipple discharge, bleeding, red/sore areas and any changes in shape/skin texture. After looking for any changes, feel your breasts and armpits for any lumps, bumps, thickening or puckering. You can do this by lying on your back, on your side or standing up. A week after your menstrual period is the ideal time to examine your breast. If you do not menstruate try to examine your breasts on the same day every month.
- Using three fingers of the hand opposite to your breast apply small circular movements by pressing down on your breast with light, medium and firm pressure (see below). Ensure your fingers are closed together.
- Gently squeeze your nipple to detect any discharge
- Repeat the steps to check the other breast.