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"New hope for advanced breast cancer patients"


Toronto Star

Source: Toronto Star

Published: 16 Dec 2021

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3 stars)

Keywords: breast cancer herceptin tykerb combination treatment

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

SAN ANTONIO - Some women with very advanced breast cancer may have a new treatment option. A combination of two drugs that more precisely target tumours significantly extended the lives of women who had stopped responding to other medicines, doctors reported Friday.

It was the first big test of combining Herceptin and Tykerb. In a study of 300 patients, women receiving both drugs lived nearly five months longer than those given Tykerb alone...

The original article can be found at: http://www.healthzone.ca/health/yourhealth/women'shealth/article/738470--new-hope-for-advanced-breast-cancer-patients

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 5 of 9
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Applicable
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The report of this study is generally good, yet falls down in the areas of the explanation of the benefits and harms related to the treatments. The study mentions some side effects, but where are the numbers of cardiac-related outcomes in patients taking Herceptin which we know is part of the published literature? In terms of harms, the report mixes absolute numbers (one woman on the combo died of a blood clot) and absolute percentages (7 to 8% experienced diarrhea)

The most confusing part was the description of the benefits: The study said this: "Median survival was analyzed after about three-fourths of the women had died " roughly two years after the study began. It was 61 weeks in the combo group versus 41 for those taking only Tykerb". The problem with this is that the Median value might be a misleading measure of survival than the average (mean). It would have been useful to clearly outline what percentage of women survived for what period of time.

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