New Treatment Proves Less Toxic for HER-2 Positive Breast Cancer Patients

By Sara Bondell - May 14, 2020

When Michelle Chador was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, doctors gave her two options: standard of care chemotherapy or a clinical trial.

She chose the clinical trial.

The trial looked at adding Interferon-gamma, a protein that signals immune response, to chemotherapy drugs paclitaxel, trastuzumab and pertuzumab in patients with HER-2 positive breast cancer.

“Typically, these patients get heavy chemotherapy for five months,” said Dr. Heather Han, a medical oncologist in the Breast Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center and principle investigator of the trial. “We wanted to see if adding Interferon-gamma to a milder, less toxic chemotherapy regimen would have a comparable, or even better, response than standard treatment.” 

Dr. Heather Han, medical oncologist, Breast Oncology Program
Dr. Heather Han, medical oncologist, Breast Oncology Program

Twenty-three patients were enrolled in the trial and given 12 weeks of treatment. The preliminary results, which were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting, show 12 of the 23 patients, or 52%, had a complete response to the treatment.

“We are always working to find out how we can find less intense treatment for patients,” said Han. “A lot of chemotherapies are very toxic and can cause things like heart failure. In HER-2 positive breast cancer, we want to try and harness things like immunotherapy to use less toxic treatment that patients will tolerate well and respond to.”

Michelle Chador rings the bell after treatment
Michelle Chador rings the bell after treatment

Chador says she didn’t have any intense side effects from the treatment. She responded well, and after completing the trial and having a double mastectomy was deemed cancer-free.

“I am 200% glad I made the decision to join the trial,” said Chador. “I feel like I was under some kind of lucky star when I was asked to be part of it.” 

The clinical trial is still ongoing and accruing patients, and final results are expected early next year.

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