Experts Answer Your Questions on Breast Cancer

Previously on "World News With Charles Gibson," we asked you for your questions about breast cancer and treatment. Here are a couple of the questions we received, with answers from two of the country's top breast cancer experts.

Question from Kathy Klatt:

I am a breast cancer patient with HER2-negative receptors. I was told that I was cancer-free after going off chemo in October 2006 and finishing radiation in December 2006. It has only been three months and my cancer levels in my blood are rising. I am going through testing to see if it is in any of my organs or bones.

Are there any new drugs that have been introduced that can help people whose cancers are not estrogen-related? I would like to know if there are any new drugs on the market that may help me if this gets worse.

Answer from Dr. Stefan Glück, professor of medicine and clinical director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center:

First of all, I hope the blood tests are not true. As a matter of fact, the American Society of Clinical Oncologists does not recommend measuring those in early breast cancer.

If it should turn out that you do have a recurrence, therapy is possible and includes a number of drugs (chemotherapy) that are available. A few very new drugs could be theoretically used but are not (yet) approved by the FDA for breast cancer; these include Avastin and similar drugs. These would usually be used in combination with chemotherapy.

For bone metastasis, additional drugs (not chemo) are also available. These are pretty standard and FDA approved.

I still hope you do not need any of those.

Question from an anonymous poster:

If you have breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone, will this pill work? I'm talking about Tykerb, because right now I'm on Herceptin.

Answer from Dr. Kimberly Blackwell, medical oncologist and associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center:

Tykerb has been shown to work, regardless of where the cancer has spread. We have seen good results with this drug when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, including the bone, the liver and the lungs.

It's important for you to talk to your physician about whether you are a good candidate for this drug. Right now this drug is approved for people in whom Herceptin has stopped working.

Do you have questions about breast cancer and current treatments? Check out this discussion thread here.

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