09.13.135:48 PM ET

FDA Panel Supports ‘Historic’ Cancer Drug

Pre-surgery breast cancer drug poised for approval.

An FDA federal advisory committee has moved toward approving the first pre-surgery breast cancer drug. The drug, Perjeta, has already been used during late-stage breast cancer; now, it may reduce tumors during the disease’s earlier stages.  If so, tumors—even inoperable ones—would be more amenable to surgery and some treated patients may undergo breast-conserving instead of breast-removal surgery.  “This is a historic moment,” says Dr. Mikkael A. Sekeres, a Cleveland Clinic associate professor and the advisory committee’s chairman. He “hope[s] that women with earlier stages of breast cancer will live longer and better.” However, of the annual 220,000 or so new cases of early-stage breast cancer, only 15,000 American women would be eligible for preoperative Perjeta treatment.