It could be a new sign of hope for some breast cancer patients, or at least a new prescription to try.
It’s a new drug and maybe a new tool to fight the disease for some breast cancer patients.
The FDA approved Perjeta on September 30, 2013.
Now, Saint Francis Medical Center Breast Cancer specialist Dr. Olivia Aranha said they’re prescribing the treatment.
"As breast cancer doctors, we're always excited for another tool, another weapon we can use against breast cancer," said Aranha.
The new drug is used in combination with chemotherapy and other treatment drugs for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer. It’s for women with early stage breast cancer with tumors greater than two centimeters or if it’s affecting the lymph nodes.
Aranha said patients get the Perjeta drug treatment before surgery, meaning there’s less cancer to take out.
"I think the future is that the patients can go to surgery with less a disease so there is a greater likelihood of taking the tumor out in its entirety," said
Patients could see side effects like nausea, diarrhea or hair loss. There is also a warning of heart dysfunction, so nurses make sure to watch closely.
"When we give the Perjeta we also make sure we have a bunch of other medications there to give in case they have a reaction," said Registered Nurse Stacey Brown.
Brown said they look for shortness of breath, and have medications like Benadryl on hand just in case.
Both Aranha and Brown said this new drug might mean new hope for some cancer patients.
"When they do hear about it, they've probably already been getting chemo for some time, so it's even better when they feel they're gotten their last drug and there's nothing else, and they find out there's something available to them, so yes those people are jazzed," said Brown.
"They're excited, I think many of them that were aware of this drug were waiting for the FDA approval," said Aranha.
Patients get the drug every three weeks for about four cycles.
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