Published: Oct. 26, 2012
Updated: Oct. 26, 2012
Kimberly Blackwell, MD, spends her weekends being a soccer mom, and her weekdays researching new treatments for breast cancer.
As a nationally renowned oncologist at the Duke Cancer Institute, and director of its Breast Cancer Program, Blackwell leads clinical trials new, more effective, and less toxic treatments for breast cancer. Her work on a new treatment for HER-2 breast cancer, which represents 20 percent of all invasive breast cancers, has drawn international attention.
The treatment is being called the “first smart bomb for breast cancer” because it links standard chemotherapy with a second drug that targets and is aimed at destroying breast cancer cells. Because it leaves healthy cells alone, the side effects typically associated with chemotherapy like nausea and hair loss are significantly reduced. The therapy also extended survival time.
“We’ve envisioned a world where cancer treatment would kill the cancer and not hurt the patient,” Blackwell told The New York Times. “This therapy does that.”
This particular trial has ended and the therapy, T-DM1, has not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration so it is not yet available to patients. However, Duke Cancer Institute patients can participate in other clinical trials that are currently evaluating potential therapies, as well as new patient care approaches for breast cancer are open. A full list of clinical trials available at the Duke Cancer Institute can be found at dukecancerinstitute.org. (the link should take them right there.) You can also access a complete list of breast specialists as well as services from prevention to treatments to survivorship in the Breast Program.
Learn more about this new treatment by watching this video: