BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA) -- The battle against breast cancer is gaining more and more weapons. A newly approved drug can slow a very aggressive tumor's spread. Soon more women may be able to get it.
Perjeta is a targeted therapy recently approved for women with metastatic HER-2 positive breast cancer. Adding Perjeta to Herceptin can extend by several months, or even longer, the time they have without the cancer getting worse.
Carolyn Hendricks, M.D., Medical Oncologist at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. helped administer the original trial.
Dr. Hendricks says, "For patients with metastatic HER-2 positive breast cancer who received standard treatment plus Perjeta the average period of time that they benefited in terms of preventing the progression of their breast cancer was 6 months, but a significant proportion benefited to a great extent."
Now Perjeta is being tested on women with less advanced stages of HER-2 cancer. Linda Ricci of Darnestown signed up for the trial.
Ricci says, "I think clinical trials are an opportunity for everybody. I have the opportunity to get a newer treatment before its market approval. Anything I can do to help this get to market will help my kids, my neighbors, and anyone who comes after me."
The trial is double-blind, meaning patients don't know if they are getting Perjeta as well as Herceptin or not. With this comparison, doctors hope to prove Perjeta's benefit to women with earlier stage HER-2 cancer, and expand its indications.
Insurance companies weigh the FDA's approval in deciding whether to cover cost of a drug.