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Friday 30 September 2016

34 women with cancer get €750k drug trial

A group of women with an aggressive form of advanced breast cancer who are no longer responding to standard treatment are to undergo a new €750,000 drug trial. Photo: PA
A group of women with an aggressive form of advanced breast cancer who are no longer responding to standard treatment are to undergo a new €750,000 drug trial. Photo: PA

A group of women with an aggressive form of advanced breast cancer who are no longer responding to standard treatment are to undergo a new €750,000 drug trial.

The 34 patients attending St James's, Beaumont and St Vincent's hospitals in Dublin, University Hospital Galway and Cork University Hospital will be offered new hope.

They have advanced HER2- positive (HER2+) breast cancer that has progressed or recurred and is no longer controlled by standard treatments.

Beaumont Hospital oncologist Prof Brian Hennessy will lead the trial.

The drug trastuzumab is used to treat HER2 breast cancer, but some women develop resistance to it and it no longer slows down or halts the growth of breast cancer cells.

Reverse

The hope is that the new trial will help to reverse the resist- ance that patients have developed.

"It is known that HER2+ breast cancer can become resistant to current HER2 therapy. We are now learning how this happens," said Prof Hennessy.

Meanwhile, Prof John Crown, a cancer specialist at St Vincent's, has backed an open letter by patients to Health Minister Simon Harris asking for the retention of a leading sarcoma oncologist.

The leading physician, who is the only specialist in this rare form of cancer in Ireland, is not having her contract renewed at St Vincent's.

Sarcoma affects around 250 people in Ireland each year.

The minister said he was assured that another medical oncologist will be assuming the responsibility for the sarcoma service and continuing care for patients receiving treatment for sarcoma cancer "will not be compromised in any way".

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