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New drug improves survival in breast cancer

A new form of drug drastically improves survival rates of younger women with the most common type of breast cancer, researchers said Saturday.

The addition of cell-cycle inhibitor ribociclib increased survival rates to 70 percent after 3½ years. The drug works by inhibiting the activity of cancer-cell promoting enzymes.

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Lead author Sara Hurvitz said the study focused on a form of breast cancer that is fueled by the hormone estrogen. It accounts for two-thirds of all cases among younger women. The treatment is less toxic than traditional chemotherapy, this is important. Novartis markets the drug under the brand name Kisqali and funded the research. A pill is administered daily for 21 days followed by seven days off to allow the body time to recover. Its cost is $12,553 for a 28-day dose but the majority of patients in the U.S. with commercial insurance will pay $0 per month. Oncologist Harold Burstein, who was not involved in the research, said it was “an important study,” having established that the use of cyclin inhibitors “translates into a significant survival benefit for women.” The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

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