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Did Scientists in Amsterdam Destroy Breast Cancer in 11 Days Without Chemo?

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Claim

Scientists in Amsterdam Just Destroyed Breast Cancer Tumors in 11 Days Without Chemo

Status

Mostly True

Summary

This treatment worked to destroy tumors and rid the cancer in a handful of patients. The trial included 257 patients with a very specific type of breast cancer. Half of the patients received a placebo drug. Out of the patients on the drug, 11% had no cancer cells remaining within two weeks, and in 17% of the cases the size of the tumors was greatly decreased.

Origin and Prevalence

This research was first presented by Professor Nigel Bundred at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam as groundbreaking research. The Chair of the European Cancer Organization claims, "The results of this important trial confirm previous initial suggestions that most probably there are patients who can be treated with two anti-HER2 agents simultaneously alone, without chemotherapy. This study proposes a simple way to identify those patients very early on, which could help spare them unnecessary chemotherapy. What is now indispensable is to confirm if these early responses translate into better or equal long-term survival." This is a great advancement in cancer research, but many websites and news articles fail to mention that it only works for a specific type of breast cancer. It does not cure all breast cancer in 11 days. Many websites shared an article from the heartysoul.com called Scientists in Amsterdam Just Destroyed Breast Cancer Tumors in 11 Days Without Chemo. This article is accurate for the most part and seems to be the one circulating on Facebook and other social media websites. This article was shared by Science Daily, Anonymous News, IFL Science, and many others.

http://www.anonews.co/breast-cancer-destroyed/

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/remarkable-breast-cancer-trial-destroys-tumors-just-11-days/

http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancerinformation/cancertypes/breast/aboutbreastcancer/typesandrelatedconditions/her2%20positive.aspx

http://www.ecco-org.eu/Global/News/EBCC/EBCC10-PR/2016/03/Combination-of-lapatinib-and-trastuzumab-shrinks-HER2-positive-breast-cancer-significantly

Issues and Analysis

The problem with this article that has been shared thousands of times is that the title is very misleading. It may give some patients or their families false hope. You have to thoroughly research the topic to find out that this treatment will only work on a certain types of cancer. It also has not worked on every patient treated with these drugs, even if they did have this specific cancer type. It is still a huge step toward curing these cancers. They are called HER2 positive breast cancers. It's estimated that 15-25% of female breast cancer patients suffer from an HER2 positive cancer. Human epidermal growth factor is a protein found on the surface of normal breast cells that can also affect the growth of some cancer cells. The combination of lapatinib and trastuzumab can shrink and even destroy HER2 positive breast cancer cells. These drugs have been used separately with chemotherapy and surgery. It was not until August 2013 that Professor Bundred decided to use the two drugs together on a select group of patients. "Potentially, giving treatment while waiting for surgery can identify a group of patients whose disease is particularly sensitive to anti-HER2 therapy, which would allow individualisation of therapy in women with HER2 positive cancers," said Prof Bundred. This treatment would allow these women to forego the chemotherapy along with all of the painful and unpleasant side effects that come with it. The new drugs have their own side effects as well, but many doctors say that chemotherapy is starting to kill more than cancer. I believe that the European Cancer Organization is a reliable source. It is composed of 25 member societies and represents over 170,000 medical professionals. ECCO is a nonprofit federation that exists to uphold the right of all European cancer patients to the best possible treatment and care, promoting interaction between all organisations involved in cancer in Europe. Their goal and mission statement is to "create awareness of patients' needs and wishes, encourage progressive thinking in cancer policy, train, educate, and promote European cancer research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care through the organisation of international multidisciplinary meetings." They are also sponsored by and partnered with many european government agencies and medical organizations. Hopefully this medical advancement will lead to many others.

Research By

Alyssa Buckman


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The Digital Polarization Initiative is a student-run project which allows university students to investigate questions of truth and authority on the web and publish their results. Learn more, or see our index. Photo credits here. DigiPo members can edit this page.