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Treatment hope for breast tumours

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Thousands of women with the deadliest forms of breast cancer could be helped by three new treatments, studies suggest.

The first showed how a twice-daily pill extended the lives of patients with breast cancer caused by faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Angelina Jolie inherited the BRCA1 gene and had a double mastectomy in 2013 to avoid developing the illness.

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File image: Breast cancer xrays - Guardian

There are very few treatment options for the 1,000 British women who are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year because it is so fast-growing.

But the trial involving 302 women by the Institute of Cancer Research in London showed that women on the pill, called Olaparib, were 42 percent less likely to see their tumours return than those on chemotherapy. A second study showed that up to 3,000 women a year could be helped by a drug that interrupts tumour growth signals. These women suffer from a type of breast cancer called HER2+, which is notoriously difficult to treat as the tumours are so aggressive.

The trial of 4,804 patients showed that those injected with Perjeta, on top of Herceptin and chemotherapy, were 19 per cent less likely to die than those who received Herceptin and chemotherapy alone.

A third study suggested that up to 5,000 patients a year who had stopped responding to other treatment could be helped by the pill Abemaciclib, which reduced the chance of progression by 45 per cent. The studies were presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.

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