ETX woman is breast cancer-free thanks to new drug - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX woman is breast cancer-free thanks to new drug


A new cancer-fighting drug is already saving lives in East Texas. While the drug isn't on the market yet, it has been tested in clinical trials in Tyler. 

Monday, the country learned about T-DM1. The drug has been used in Tyler to treat people fighting the most aggressive forms of breast cancer. One patient says she knows the drug saved her life.

In 1996, Carol Aiken was diagnosed with stage 4 HER-2 positive breast cancer. When Carol was diagnosed, her two daughters were eight and nine years old.

"My main concern then was whether I was going to see these children grow up, and whether I was going to be a part of their life. It was a very devastating diagnosis," Carol says.

Carol tried everything, but the cancer always came back. With very few options left, Carol joined Dr. Svetislava Vukelja's clinical trial.

The drug is administered through an IV and only targets certain cells.

"We're only targeting the cells that are malignant and that's very unique. I think medicine and oncology is going in that direction that we don't want to attack normal cells. We want to attack the bad guys and leave the good guys alone," Dr. V says.

She says there are very few side effects, and for most people the results are striking.

"This was the most fatal and most aggressive breast cancer. Now it has turned into the most treatable and in some way most curable. This is huge. This is huge because of the number of women with breast cancer. Huge," Dr. V says.

With a half-hour of therapy every three weeks, Carol has now been cancer-free for two years.

She's living a healthy and active life in her longest remission ever.

Carol says if the drug becomes FDA approved, others with breast cancer have a lot to look forward to.

"They can look forward to a happy, fulfilling life. I know that if I had not been on this clinical trial, I would not be alive today," "Carol says.

Dr. V says has been the primary investigator in this Texas Oncology Clinical Trial for four and a half years. She says her entire trial took place right here in Tyler.

Related story: New Study Results Bring Hope to Patients with Metastatic HER2-positive Breast Cancer

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