Feb 4, 2015 6:16 PM

Drug fast-tracked by FDA offers new hope for women with breast cancer


Wednesday is "World Cancer Day," and with it comes new hope for women with breast cancer. The Food and Drug Administration approved a new promising drug.

Breast cancer deaths are down 34% in the last two decades. That's great progress, but it still remains the second biggest cancer killer for women in the U.S.

It's estimated last year 232,670 American women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and 40,000 died from it.

The newly FDA approved drug Ibrance is expected to improve those statistics. It's an injectable drug that's used in combination with another cancer drug known generically as Letrozole. Ibrance attacks the molecules that promote cancer cell growth - slowing that growth.

It specifically treats advanced breast cancer in post-menopausal women, whose tumors do not contain the HER-2 positive protein. It's so promising the FDA actually sped up its approval.

Meanwhile, lung cancer has now surpassed breast cancer as the leading cancer death in women in wealthy countries. It's been the top killer for men worldwide since the 19-50s, but there are signs these deaths are going down as smoking rates decline.

Doctors do say half of all cancers are preventable by quitting or not smoking, eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. Some vaccines also help prevent cervical and liver cancers.


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