By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Finding a cure for breast cancer is the ultimate goal of Sunday’s Race for the Cure. Some of the money raised will fund research. Doctors say some of the most promising drugs for the disease are being tested right here in Philadelphia.
It’s an embrace like no other. Martha Hogan-Battisti is thankful to be alive, and for Dr. Angela DeMichele, whose research helped save her life.
“I’m feeling wonderful, and if I could knock wood I do feel cured,” said Martha.
In 2011, Martha was diagnosed with an aggressive form of stage 2 breast cancer that hadn’t spread. Instead of first getting standard treatment, she joined a unique trial at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. Doctors matched one of seven investigational drugs to her cancer type.
“The women receive one of the drugs that is best tailored to her tumor, and receives the drug before ever having surgery, so we can see if it’s working,” said Dr. DeMichele.
And that’s a first. The experimental drugs are designed to target what’s fueling a specific cancer, and kill it. Usually new medications are first tested on patients with advanced disease.
“Through this trial she was able to get it at the time she was diagnosed. At the time it has the greatest chance of actually curing her breast cancer,” said Dr. DeMichele.
It worked well for Martha. She took the medication for six months, with few side effects and she is now cancer free.
“When I see a woman on the trial who has been receiving a new drug and see the cancer melt away, it’s an incredibly satisfying feeling,” said Dr. DeMichele.
Doctors are encouraged by what they’re seeing. In just a couple of years they’re seeing results that typically take ten years to get to.
Women in the study also get standard chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
For more information on the Penn Medicine I-Spy2 Trial, visit: www.penncancer.org.