Doctors hope experimental drug combo will increase immune response to breast cancer

Doctors hope experimental drug combo will increase immune response to breast cancer

While trying treatment after treatment, she became a breast cancer advocate and went to California for training by Project Lead, a program run by the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

In the U.S. and other developed nations, most patients are diagnosed with breast cancer at early stages and, therefore, they can benefit more from such tests.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) examined over 10,000 breast cancer patients and found that women who were treated with an estrogen-blocking hormone therapy had a almost identical survival rate to women treated with chemo and hormone therapy.

"The impact is tremendous", said the study leader, Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in NY.

"At lot of works needs to be done, but the potential exists for a paradigm shift in cancer therapy - a unique drug for every cancer patient - it is very different to any other kind of treatment", he said.

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The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the US breast cancer postage stamp.

The findings were released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, the world's largest annual cancer conference.

A new Indiana University School of Medicine research center will focus on aggressive and hard-to-treat breast cancers. "But because this new approach to immunotherapy is dependent on mutations, not on cancer type, it is in a sense a blueprint we can use for the treatment of many types of cancer". "Ten-thousand women, one of the first studies we've ever had where we're able to personalize or tailor the medication or plan for the patient", says Dr. David Groteluschen a Green Bay Oncology physician with HSHS St. Vincent Cancer Centers.

The research is still experimental.

"I came to realize that I was going to die, and that's where my mind was", the 52-year old from Florida told CBS News.

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"She may have lost her life", her husband, Scott Satterfield, said recently, "but I hope someone else will gain from her trial". Genetic mutations in cells are cancer's trigger, causing those cells to grow out of control.

Now, after an infusion of billions of cancer-killing immune cells, and having been given a life expectancy of just a few months, there is no sign of cancer in her body - a "complete, durable regression" in the words of the scientists that developed the therapy. It involves extracting immune cells from the patient's body, multiplying them, and injecting them back into the patient in much larger numbers.

Those of us who have seen cancer attack the people we love know that patient-specific treatment is long overdue.

'I think it had been maybe 10 days since I'd gotten the cells, and I could already feel that tumor starting to get soft, ' Perkins said. She had several treatments that weren't successful, then found the NCI trial online.

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