An Important Message for Women with Breast Cancer
- Due to the pandemic, many women missed their mammogram screenings for breast cancer.
- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and serves as a reminder that women need to get their mammograms, especially if they skipped them due to the pandemic.
- Dr. Elizabeth Comen, medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and an advisor to SurvivorNet, is also urging women with metastatic breast cancer to get retested to see if their tumors meet a new classification as HER2 “low.”
- The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the drug Enhertu for treatment of HER2 “low” breast cancers. Enhertu has been shown to prolong survival for women with this kind of cancer.
When it comes to screening, according to SurvivorNet experts, a huge number of women who did not get mammograms during the pandemic should get back and see their doctor to be screened for breast cancer. The other major news in breast cancer, which is being hailed as the most significant development in nearly two decades, is the reclassification of some advanced breast cancers as HER2 “low.”Read More
Dr. Comen also highlighted an exciting treatment for a new classification of metastatic breast cancer.
“One of the most challenging types of cancer to treat is metastatic breast cancer, which means breast cancer cells that have spread from the breast to another part of the body like the liver or the bone and a new treatment, an FDA approved treatment called Enhertu or T-DXd is being used to improve the survival of patients with a new classification of metazoic breast cancer called HER2-low metastatic breast cancer,” said Dr. Comen.
Dr. Comen speaks on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Enhertu as a treatment for HER2-low
What Is HER2?
The traditional presence of HER2, a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells, is divided into two groups, either positive or negative, leaving about 50 percent of patients somewhere in the middle. These patients are now being newly classified as HER2 “low.” They have a minimal amount of HER2 “expression,” but do not meet the classic definition for HER2-positive tumors.
The drug Enhertu was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration in August to treat HER2-low breast cancer after a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the experimental drug trastuzumab deruxtecan, which is sold as Enhertu, “resulted in significantly longer progression-free and overall survival than the physician’s choice of chemotherapy” for patients with metastatic breast cancer.
“So for anybody watching if they or their loved one has metastatic breast cancer it’s critical that they ask their doctor ‘do I have HER2-low breast cancer and might this be an appropriate treatment for me?” Dr. Comen advised.
RELATED: A ‘New’ Type Of Breast Cancer? Practice-Changing Results? New Study Says Yes, And Provides Hope For Patients With HER2 ‘Low’ Breast Cancer
The FDA, citing data from the National Cancer Institute, says that 287,850 new cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022. Approximately 80-85% of those new cases were previously considered to be HER2-negative subtype, including hormone receptor positive and triple negative breast cancer.
The biggest take away is if you have metastatic breast cancer you need to go back and get genetic testing done to see if your breast cancer now falls into the HER2-low category and if Enhertu should be a treatment option.
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