Surprising results could mean a step towards finding a cure for breast cancer

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Findings released by the European Breast Cancer Conference suggest that drugs Lapatinib and Trastuzumab, could be a stepping stone towards tailored cancer care.

The pair of drugs were tested on 257 women with tumours measuring between 1cm-3cm and are said to have produced surprising results.

NHS doctors have found that the pair of drugs showed a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that some breast cancers can be shrunk and even eliminated in the space of 11 days.

In less than two weeks of treatment, the cancer disappeared entirely in 11% of cases, and in a further 17% they were smaller than 5mm.

Doctors have said that the surprise findings could mean that some women no longer need chemotherapy to try and treat their breast cancer. However, researchers have said that larger studies will have to be carried out due to the fact that HER2 positive cancers have a higher risk of coming back.

Information provided on the drugs said that Lapatinib and Trastuzumab target a specific weakness which is found in one in ten of breast cancers. They both target HER2 which is a protein that fuels the growth of some women’s breast cancers. Herceptin works on the surface of cancerous cells while Lapatinib is able to penetrate inside the cell to disable the HER2.

It is believed that the doctors leading the trial had not anticipated for the drugs to produce such astonishing results.

The trial was initiated to investigate how drugs can change cancers in the time between a tumour being identified and the operation to extract it.

However, remarkably by the time the surgeons came to operate on the tumours, there was no sign of cancer in some patients.

The future of cancer medicine is considered to be in the ability to match specific errors in a tumour to targeted drugs.

More than 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year and with breast cancer now thought of as at least ten separate diseases, each with a different cause and needing a different treatment, research is essential.