Table of Contents
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a new drug for breast cancer which targets only the tumor cells and spares healthy tissue. Kadcyla, which is a form of trastuzumab emtasine, attached to another drug called DM1, "interferes with the growth of cancer cells", according to Richard Pazdur, MD, Director of Hematology and Oncology Products at the FDA. When it is delivered to the target site, it slows the progression of the disease and shrinks the tumor itself by stopping the cells from being able to grow and divide.
The combination of the drugs along with a third, add up to a potent cocktail which, when delivered to the target site, binds to the tumor cells and they are fooled into ingesting it, that’s when it zaps them. The ‘explosion from within’ of the cancerous cells means that this new drug is very efficacious exactly where it is needed and does not affect surrounding healthy tissue.
More medication is delivered exactly where it is needed, without traveling all the way around the bloodstream. This can also mean that the usual side effects which are known to occur with chemotherapy may be greatly reduced. Patients can expect a great decrease in vomiting and smaller amounts of hair loss and other effects than usual.
Breast cancer is the second worst form of cancer in the US after pancreatic cancer. It is thought that in the United States, 1 out of every 8 women is at risk of developing some form of invasive breast cancer. This means that there are potentially over a quarter of a million new cases every year.
Cancer is caused when mutations in genes cause cells to act strangely. Mutations occur all the time and sometimes they can have no effect at all. Or, a mutation could lead to a form of cancer which is benign, which means that it is perfectly harmless. But sometimes, whether helped by environmental influences or not, it is not really fully known, a mutation can lead to a malignant cancer. This is the harmful type.
This cancer causes cells to grow with no cease. They proliferate and divide into the tissue where they start and can also spread out into surrounding tissues, or even travel along blood vessels and turn up in distant tissues.
The treatment options for breast cancer can be quite overwhelming. Surgical removal can be followed by chemotherapy, radiation or hormonal therapies. According to breastcancer.org, there are over 80 known side effects of cancer treatment and a lot of these can be attributed to treatment by chemotherapy. They include pain, hair loss, nose bleeds, heart problems, numbness, muscle pain and nausea.
Many of these side effects occur because chemotherapy is a systemic medicine. Some strong drugs are used, often more than one at a time to target the tumour. These are administered either in tablet form or as an intravenous drip. Both of these methods result in these medications circulating throughout the whole body.