Minimal Side Effects with New Class of Breast Cancer Drugs
Recently, hormonal therapies have been making major breakthroughs as a new type of oral drug becomes available as a treatment option.
These new drugs are called cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors, and they are both effective and produce little to no side effects for most patients.
One of the most prevalent forms of breast cancer is hormone receptor-positive (HR+) metastatic breast cancer. In these cases, the cancer can be treated with hormone therapies that block the hormones produced and used by cancerous cells. The result is usually a drastically slowed progression of the cancer, and in particularly effective treatments, cancerous tumors can be stopped from growing altogether.
Hormonal therapies typically block the distribution of estrogen throughout the body, which cancerous tumors depend upon in order to grow. In some cases, cancer will circumvent hormonal therapy and become resistant to hormone blockers, but this does not have negative consequences and will not strengthen the cancer’s growth.
In addition to an HR+ diagnosis, breast cancer patients will receive an HER2+ or HER2- diagnosis, which indicates the presence of the HER2 protein. This protein, when present, promotes the growth and spread of cancerous cells. An HER2+ diagnosis occurs in approximately 1 out of every 5 cases of breast cancer, and is generally a more aggressive cancer that is less responsive to hormone therapy. Over 70% of breast cancer diagnoses, by far the majority, will be HR+/HER2- breast cancer. This cancer is generally responsive to hormonal therapy and is considered more treatable.