The FDA gave a press release Monday, September 30, 2013 approving Perjeta for early stage breast cancer treatment before surgery. This is the first drug to offer treatment before surgery.
What is Perjeta?
Perjeta is a drug that is used to target specific cells in HER2 positive breast cancer. HER2 is a protein that contributes to cancer cell growth. Perjeta will be used for patients who are at high-risk of having their cancer spread, reoccur, or dying from their cancer. It will be used in combination with other treatments before surgery.
The FDA Approved Perjeta, Now What?
Perjeta will be used in combination with Trastuzumab (target therapy) and Docetaxel (Chemotherapy) before seeking surgical treatment for patients with early stages of breast cancer. The FDA reports that this combination has the best chance of reaching pathologic complete response (pCR), which is the absence of invasive cancer in the breast and lymph nodes according the the FDA. Usually, surgery is the first step to treatment of breast cancer but the FDA approved Perjeta to help shrink tumors before surgery.
The cancer that Perjeta will be treating (those that are HER2 positive) tends to be aggressive and reoccurring. On top of that, 20% of breast cancers have a large amount of HER2 proteins. The FDA approved Perjeta in 2012 for late stages of breast cancer but are now hoping that they can stop it from spreading early on. Richard Pazdur, M.D., states in the FDA press release that “By making effective therapies available to high-risk patients in the earliest disease setting, we may delay or prevent cancer recurrences.”
What Are the Side Effects?
The FDA approved Perjeta however, there are still a few side effects. These side effects are similar to that of chemotherapy. They include: hair loss, diarrhea, nausea, and a decreased white blood cell count which allows for greater risk of infection.
Researchers hope the use of this new drug will help save lives by catching breast cancer early and preventing it from progressing.