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11 August 2017
Claim: Breast cancer tumors are being destroyed in 11 days without chemotherapy
Status: Mostly false
Professor Nigel Bundred at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam tested the effectiveness of the drugs Herceptin and Lapatinib, which are both known to treat breast cancer. However, this is the first time they have been used together before surgery and chemotherapy. A clinical trial was conducted with a sample size of 257 women who were HER2 positive breast cancer. The first 130 women received Herceptin, while others received Lapatinib. They were treated for 11 days after diagnosis and before surgery. The rest of the women were in the control group and did not receive any drug. Results showed that when both drugs were combined, seven out of the 66 women had no cancer cells and 11 women showed shrunken tumors. According to Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of Breast Cancer Care – a UK-based charity – said that these two drugs cannot be taken together because Herceptin's licensing makes it impossible to take the drug alone unless one is receiving chemotherapy. Scientists are hoping that this study will open the door for other studies alike so that it can change the current licensing, and help avoid chemotherapy or even surgery altogether for cancer patients.
On March 10, 2016, the publication Science Daily reported that the combination of the drugs Herceptin and Lapatinib reduced breast cancer in just 11 days after diagnosis. The study was conducted in Amsterdam by the University of Manchester and The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation ( Science Daily). However, the original article came from the website heartysoul.com with over 518,000 Facebook shares and 395 Pinterest shares. This seems to be the main article that is circulating around social media outlets, which makes sense considering people do not tend to understand or want to read formal research articles like the one from Science Daily.
Origin and Prevalence
Science Daily (March 20, 2016, N/A Facebook shares)
Issues and Analysis
Although there is claims that these tumors are reduced significantly and cancer cells are destroyed by using these two drugs together, there is only one study that can prove this theory. The title is misleading because it does not provide you with accurate information, that only a certain type of breast cancer is can be cured. In fact, the title of the original article and the following articles are all misleading. There is no such thing as curing a tumor in 11 days. It is impossible and no study has found a cure that quickly. However, it is possible to advance research and that is what they did. The final results showed that the two drugs combined only helped reduce the tumor, not completely destroy it. Also, there is no direct link to the RCT and no names of the authors. On top of that, a lot of the articles that made the claim used different statistics to prove their point. However, the biggest point is that only one study has been conducted and so far it has not been replicated so we cannot know for sure whether it was statistically significant or not, and whether or not it is true.