Thursday, February 09, 2006

Doctors treating growing number of breast cancer survivors who have brain tumors

Arizona Central, February 7, 2006
Doctors across the United States say they are treating a growing number of breast cancer survivors who have brain tumors, where drugs have halted the spread of cancer in their bodies, but not in their brains. ''We're seeing something we have not seen before; women whose cancer from the neck down appears to be gone on the scans," said Dr. Nancy Lin, also at Dana-Farber. ''Yet they have cancer in their brain." In the past, many of these women would have developed brain tumors very close to the end of their lives, while they were dying of cancer elsewhere in their bodies. Now, a new generation of drugs is controlling the cancer in women's bodies far better. Many are not effective in the brain, however, so many women feel vital and healthy when brain cancer comes out of the blue. Doctors say the phenomenon is particularly striking with women who have the aggressive type of breast cancer like Soscia's and who take Herceptin. Studies show Herceptin extends the lives of women with advanced breast cancer that has spread by 6 to 12 months on average. But Herceptin is a large molecule that does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier, a network of blood vessels that are so tightly constructed that certain substances cannot pass from the bloodstream into the brain. Winer and several other doctors said they do not believe Herceptin is causing the cancer to spread to the brain, just that it's not working there. --Click the title of this post to read the full article from its source--


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