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Breast cancer success: Drug found to reduce risk of cancer coming back

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(NEW YORK) — A breast cancer drug already on the market has been found to lower the chances of breast cancer recurring, an advancement that could open the drug to a broader range of patients.

The pharmaceutical company Novartis announced the findings Friday about its breast cancer treatment Kisqali, a drug already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people with more advanced stages of breast cancer.

The vast majority of breast cancer patients are diagnosed in the early stages of disease. Right now, many are treated with chemotherapy and endocrine therapy.

The new data shows that adding Kisqali after primary treatment will reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.

This finding could be good news specifically for women who are diagnosed in the earlier stages of the disease and those who are hormone-receptor positive, and HER2 negative, who make up 70% of the breast cancer population, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“Women who have this subtype can have recurrences even 20 to 25 years after their initial diagnosis,” Dr. Dennis Slamon, director of the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program and lead investigator of the Kisqali clinical trial, told ” Good Morning America.” “We found that adding this drug to the best available standard therapy will decrease the recurrence rate by as much as 25%.”

Suzanne Garner, 45, participated in the clinical trial for Kisqali after being diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer five years ago.

She said she was treated with chemotherapy and endocrine therapy, but the potential outcome of the treatments “didn’t feel right.”

“I felt that my risk of recurrence was still too high,” Garner told “GMA.” “I have a young daughter who needs her mom around for as long as possible and I would absolutely do anything to reduce my risk of recurrence so I can be her mom for as long as she needs me.”

Novartis announced the findings on Kisqali at the 2023 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The company said it plans to submit the data to “regulatory authorities in the U.S. and Europe before end of year.”

“Patients diagnosed with HR+/HER2- early breast cancer remain at risk of cancer recurrence, given that one-third of patients diagnosed with stage II and more than half of those diagnosed with stage III will unfortunately experience a return of their cancer,” Dr. Shreeram Aradhye, chief medical officer of Novartis, said in a statement. “The compelling data from NATALEE [the clinical trial] highlight the potential of Kisqali to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in this at-risk population, including node-negative patients, while maintaining a favorable safety profile. These potentially practice-changing results reinforce the unique and well-established profile of Kisqali as a proven treatment in HR+/HER2- metastatic breast cancer.”

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