PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s breast cancer awareness month, and doctors at one local hospital are taking personalized medicine to a new level in the treatment of breast cancer. Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the details.

Getting experimental drugs to patients more quickly is the goal of a new clinical trial happening at the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, one of three centers currently participating in the study. And breast cancer patients are benefiting.

Erica Zado is a Physician’s Assistant at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. But two years ago, she also became a patient, after being diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.

“I had chemotherapy, then a double mastectomy, and then the radiation therapy,” said Erica.

Currently breast cancer patients receive standard chemotherapy. But since not all cancers are the same, doctors at Penn are now offering patients the opportunity to test new chemotherapy drugs, tailored to an individual’s cancer type.

“This study is incredibly exciting because it’s really going to change the way we treat breast cancer for every women who gets the disease,” said Dr. Angela DeMichele, an Oncologist at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.

The latest techniques of genetic profiling are being used on patient’s tumors, so doctors can match drugs to their cancer type earlier than ever before. They hope this is more effective, with fewer side effects.

“We can get these drugs out to patients sooner. We can find the ones that will work and the ones that won’t work in a much more efficient way,” said Dr. DeMichele.

If doctors find a chemo is very effective the investigational drug will quickly move to a Phase 3 trial, making it available to even more women.

Being a breast cancer survivor, Erica is excited about the new individualized approach.

“What I hope is that with all their trials and all the steps forward that they find treatments for cancer that are sort of less aggressive. The chemo’s less horrible,” said Erica.

Women with invasive breast cancer are eligible. Patients will be regularly monitored with MRI’s, while they receive six months of the experimental chemotherapy.


Abramson Cancer Center

I-SPY 2 Trial information

Reported By: Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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