New drug offers hope to breast cancer patients

APRIL 11, 2005 -- Theresa Benton was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and still struggles with the disease. When the cancer returned in Theresa's lungs, she headed to Duke University for a clinical trial on a new drug called Lapatinib.

"This drug specifically targets aspects of cancer cells, and shuts them down, and in shutting them down hopefully kills them," said Dr. Kimberly Blackwell, an oncologist in Durham,

X-rays show the drug was able to shrink tumors in some patients.

Doctor Blackwell say Lapatinib is a potentially more effective therapy then Herceptin, the frontline drug used for breast cancer treatment.

"The hypothesis of the trial is that by targeting two proteins we might be able to turn off the cancer's growth, whereas it has started to grow with the drug Herceptin--that only targeted one of the proteins," said Blackwell.

Theresa was diagnosed at the age of 29. She cautions women to be vigilant about monthly self-breast exams.

"People say, 'well breast cancer doesn't run in my family, so I don't have to worry about it,' and they are so, so wrong. It didn't run in my family either."

Theresa hopes this drug will help keep her cancer away for good.