PINK UP: New drug could be a lifesaver for breast cancer patients

PINK UP: New drug could be a lifesaver for breast cancer patients

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - New research could prove to be a lifesaver for breast cancer patients.

Researchers are looking at a new drug called buparlisib.

According to Dr. Olivia Aranha at Saint Francis Medical Center, it was developed to help patients with stage four breast cancer that is fueled by hormones.

At that point, Aranha says the cancer is typically in their bones and they will have to go on a series of drugs and maybe get a monthly hormone injection.

The problem: the cancer could progress, meaning the need for chemotherapy.

This new drug is aimed at keeping the cancer from progressing and maintain their quality of life.

Research showed it had a 33 percent clinical benefit.

"This new treatment could further delay the time of starting cytotoxic chemotherapy in this particular group of patients with [estrogen receptor]–positive disease," Dr. Angelo Di Leo said.

According to Aranha, this is good news.

"The results are very encouraging and it's another drug in our toolkit that we can use for these women and it did have a significant clinical benefit," Aranha said.

Patients like Melba Buckner could soon benefit from the drug.

Buckner was first diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

Her breast cancer was hormone sensitive.

Then 2013 came around.

"I thought I was over it," Buckner said. "And then I went on a bowling tournament and when I got to the sixth game to bowl in the singles and doubles I couldn't raise my right arm. And I knew something else was wrong."

Her cancer had become resistant and spread to her bones.

"To be truthful with you when I first was diagnosed with cancer we turned it over to the lord, then to doctor Aranha so whatever she tells me that's what I do," Buckner said.

That is where the new drug would have come into play.

"If this drug were available in 2013 I would've offered it to her," Dr. Aranha said.

But moving forward this might be an option for others.

"It's another drug in our toolkit that we can use for these women," Dr. Aranha said.

A promising step, but researchers are still looking at how to decrease the side effects like a rise in liver enzymes.

The drug won't hit the market just yet, not until it is totally determined that it can be used as a new standard of care.

"... I believe that we need further research in the attempt to identify new PI3K inhibitors with a comparable level of activity and with a better safety profile," Dr. Di Leo said.

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