New game-changing drugs for metastatic breast cancer

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Beating the Odds: New drugs for breast cancer patients. Alicia Vitarelli reports during Action News at 4pm on October 9, 2017. (WPVI)

This week, we're focused on Beating the Odds Against Breast Cancer, with the word on new advances, and some people trying to make a difference.

This afternoon, a look at 2 new drugs changing lives for those whose cancer can't be cured.

Linda Simon says she was clueless about inflammatory breast cancer till her diagnosis in 2015.

"I never knew how aggressive it was, how to treat it, and what this journey was going to be about," she says, reflecting on the past 2 years.

But Linda and her partner Cindy learned fast - through one chemo regimen, and then another... through surgery... and several rounds of radiation.

When the cancer moved beyond the breast area, Linda became one of about 200-thousand women & men with metastatic breast cancer - not curable, but treatable.

"Many of us take treatments for hypertension and diabetes, and this is no different," says Linda's oncologist.

Dr. Maysa Abu-Khalaf of Jefferson's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center says medications are used to slow or stop the cancer's progress.

For more than a year, Ibrance, one of a new type of drugs called CDK 4/6 inhibitors, held Linda's cancer at bay.

They are for estrogen-fueled cancers.

"They're really hormone-blocking agents, that either reduce the production of estrogen in one's body, or block the effect of the estrogen on the breast cancer cells," says Dr. Abu-Khalaf.

In combination with older estrogen blockers, Ibrance and Kisqali - a similar drug - slow the division of cancer cells.

While the older blockers work for about 10 months -

"When you combine that with these novel drugs you can have another 10 months. It kinds of doubles the time," she says

They're oral drugs, with low-key side effects, compared to intravenous chemotherapy.

Linda was back to her favorite activities -

"I love being with people - my family, my friends,"

Linda's thankful for 14 months of nearly normal life, though her cancer eventually became resistant to Ibrance, and she's now on a conventional chemotherapy.

Dr. Abu-Khalaf is trying to make these revolutionary drugs even more successful, with her research on genomic tests to see which patients will do best with them.

She is working with the Side-Out Foundation, which teams with the volleyball community on research.

You can help push the bounds of cancer research by joining the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.

Opening ceremonies are at 9.

Learn more about the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk here .

Learn more about the Kimmel Cancer Center here.

Learn more about the Side-Out Foundation here.

Related Topics:
healthhealthcheckbreast cancerbeating the odds

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