Cancer Research UK cautious over new breast cancer drug combo

In collaboration with the Press Association

The preliminary results of a new breast cancer treatment trial have been cautiously welcomed by Cancer Research UK.

The charity's medical director, Professor John Toy, said the trials were in early stages and more research would need to be done to see if the combination really could benefit patients with breast cancer.

Early results from a clinical trial for patients with breast cancer show that those who received a combination of the cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab), together with the standard chemotherapy treatment Taxol (paclitaxel), survived without the disease getting worse for almost twice as long as patients who received Taxol alone.

Avastin is currently used to treat advanced bowel cancer.

"This is an encouraging report which could lead to an improved treatment option for certain women with breast cancer. But the findings are still early - we don't yet know if this will extend lives or if the side effects are acceptable - so further follow-up is essential," Professor Toy said. In the study 722 patients with advanced breast cancer were divided into two groups. One group received the standard treatment - Taxol alone - and the second group received Taxol and Avastin. The study suggested that those on the combined treatment lived for a year without their cancer getting any worse, compared with only seven months for those who took just Taxil.

"The next step will be introducing the new drug in patients whose breast cancer has not progressed" said the study author Dr R Zon, of Michiana Hematology Oncology, USA.