When caught in its early stages, breast cancer is curable. However, once it metastasizes, treatments can only control its spread and manage symptoms.
T-DM1, a new drug currently being tested in a clinical trial called the EMILIA study, is showing promise for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread. There are currently 913 women enrolled in the study, which has 107 sites in 37 cities, including the Hematology & Oncology Specialists in Metairie and the Cancer Center of Acadiana at Lafayette.
"In the phase one study, the appropriate dose was discovered," says Dr. Melody Cobleigh, an oncologist and internist at Rush University in Chicago. "And then in a phase two study, where everybody received the drug — these were patients who had had a lot of prior therapy — it showed significant activity. So now it's moving to phase three, where it's being compared with standard therapy."
The study is currently recruiting both male and female participants. Qualifying patients who are over age 18 and have been diagnosed with HER2-positive, metastatic (advanced) breast cancer will receive all tests and the new drug free.
"The type of trial we are talking about here is one where the agent has already proven to be effective," Cobleigh says. "Now we have to go one step further and do a larger study to compare it with standard therapy to show if it's better than traditional therapy."
The doctors running the study believe the new drug will be better and safer than traditional treatments, but that has to be proved. However, developments in medicine mean breast cancer patients are able to live with advanced cancer for longer. When Elizabeth Esposito was diagnosed, she feared her time as a healthy, vibrant adult was coming to an end.
"'I'm going to not be able to do anything anymore.' That's what I thought," Esposito says. "I thought I was going to be bedridden, which was completely not true."
Esposito has lived with advanced breast cancer for nine years. She hopes this study will prove to be a major advancement for others in her position.
"I'm keeping my faith in just being strong and keeping myself healthy," Esposito says. "I do feel that there's more and more progress with developing new treatments and new drugs that have been able to treat this cancer, and I've had a lot of good results."
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To see if you qualify for the EMILIA study, visit www.emiliaclinicaltrial.com or call or email one of the following local sites.
Hematology & Oncology Specialists(4228 Houma Blvd., Suite 130, Metairie, 885-8220)
Study Coordinator: Mary Ann Ostroske (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cancer Center of Acadiana at Lafayette(1211 Coolidge Blvd., Suite 100, Lafayette, 337-232-2520)
Study Coordinator: Rebecca Donohue (email@example.com)