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Health Beat: Reducing recurrence of HER2+ breast cancer

Health Beat: Reducing recurrence of...

LOS ANGELES - Allison Landherr was diagnosed with stage three HER2-positive breast cancer when she was 39.

"All of a sudden, you have this cancer diagnosis, and you stop everything and just try to figure out how are you going to survive," Landherr said.

She had surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and a year of Herceptin. She knew cancer returns for up to a quarter of patients after Herceptin. Then, her doctor told her about Nerlynx, a targeted therapy that works inside cancer cells and blocks growth signals from multiple pathways.

"It irreversibly inactivates that and then downstream it can't signal, so that leads to in vivo, increased cell death," explained Dr. Linda D Bosserman, a medical oncologist at City of Hope.

Landherr took six pills a day for a year. She also took medicine for diarrhea, the worst side-effect.

"Truthfully, life went on as normal throughout the treatment," Landherr admitted.

Bosserman said Nerlynx may not make a big difference for women in stage-one, but it significantly reduced recurrence for some women with more advanced cancer.

"For women with multiple nodes positive, estrogen positive, their risk can be up in that 30 percent range, and to lower that 34 percent is a profound benefit to women," Bosserman stated.

Landherr stopped taking Nerlynx eight months ago. Now, she's cancer-free and looking ahead.

"I want to see my children thrive and become independent and see what the future holds for them," she said.

And she's looking forward to growing old with her husband.

Bosserman got Nerlynx for Landherr by compassionate use from Puma Biomedical at City of Hope Hospital. The trial had officially ended by the time she needed it. The FDA has since approved the drug.

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