Friday, August 12, 2011

Decision time... participate in a clinical trial or not?

When I met with my oncologist on August 2, she told me I would be a good candidate for a clinical trial which is studying the effects of Herceptin on women with early stage breast cancer who are HER2-negative. Herceptin is normally given to women who are HER2-positive which means their breast cancer is more aggressive and has a higher chance of recurrence. The particular clinical trial I was asked to participate in is trying to evaluate if Herceptin can help reduce a woman's risk of recurrence if she is HER2-negative (like me).

For a good explanation on HER2, take a look at this article on Dr. Susan Love's breast cancer website.

So I have been very conflicted about this clinical trial because Herceptin is not without its side effects. The riskiest side effect is possible damage to the heart and lungs. If I participate in the trial, I would be closely monitored for side effects and the drug will be stopped if the doctor feels my health is being compromised.

********STOP THE PRESSES!************

As I was looking for a link on Dr. Susan Love's website to help explain HER2, I found this GEM!

I have early stage breast cancer. Can I use Herceptin?

Dr. Love explains that Herceptin has been approved for adjuvant therapy in treatment of women with early stage breast cancer since 2006. And she goes on to say this:

In April 2005 the three trials were stopped about two years early when researchers found that women who were given trastuzumab along with chemotherapy were 50 percent less likely to have their cancer recur.

Wow. That is an amazing stat. 50% is HUGE.

The information on the clinical study that I am considering says that the research is being done to learn more about using Herceptin to treat HER2-negative breast cancer, specifically in premenopausal women.

I think I may have resolved my own dilemma. If Herceptin has been approved for use in women with my type of cancer since 2006 and it is reducing recurrence rates by 50% -- then I say: SIGN ME UP!

More to come.

1 comment:

  1. Which trial is this? I haven't been able to find information on it - I'm also HER2 negative, and looking for alternatives to Tamoxifen (blech).