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A new trial's findings has suggested that combining a pioneering drug with hormone therapy may extend the survival of some women with advanced breast cancer. 

 

It has been found that women who got palbociclib and hormone therapy were surviving up to 10 months longer than the patients who were  given hormone treatment alone.

 

While experts say that the treatment might not work for  everyone and is most definitely not a cure, it will also delay the need for chemotherapy - which often has debilitating side-effects.

 

 

The trial, which was was led by researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, looked at adding palbociclib to the hormone therapy fulvestrant in 521 women.

 

These women were suffering from advanced, oestrogen-receptor positive breast cancer whose tumours did not have the HER2 gene.

 

This is the most common form of breast cancer, taking up a whopping 70% of the cases. 

 

So what exactly did they find?

 

With women whose tumours had previously responded well to hormone therapy (410 of the 521 women), the treatment extended survival by 10 months to an average of 39.7 months.

 

This is compared with 29.7 months in the women who received fulvestrant and a placebo. 

 

 

The results can be seen in how, three years after the study, 49.6% of women who received both palbociclib and fulvestrant were still alive, compared with 40.8% of women who were treated with just fulvestrant. 

 

The combination treatment group had a nine-month longer delay in having to start chemo also. 

 

Prof Nicholas Turner, who led the study, said, ''the development of palbociclib is one of the biggest advances in treatment for women with advanced breast cancer in the last two decades.''

 

He continued, ''this drug can offer women more precious time with their loved ones, and because it is a targeted treatment it is much kinder than chemotherapy, and enables many women to carry on with their lives normally."

 

While Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said the results were "exciting", it is clear that more research is needed.

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