Breast cancer drug Herceptin could keep new tumours away for more than four years, experts have said.
They found that four years on, patients who received Herceptin -dubbed a 'wonderdrug' in 2005-are still 24 per cent less likely to have their tumours recur.
Women usually have surgery to remove the cancer and then receive chemotherapy. But after this, Herceptin can be used to stunt remaining cancer cells. It targets a protein, HER2, that fuels tumours.
When trial results for Herceptin were published at a US conference, the audience of oncologists stood up and applauded because it offered new hope for a group of women hard to treat.
Data revealed it cut risk of tumours recurring within a year by half. he latest date has shown that almost 79 per cent of women were alive with no new tumours four years after treatment, against 72 per cent given chemotherapy alone.
"These results clearly show the benefit of Herceptin after chemotherapy for patients with this aggressive form of early breast cancer," the Daily Express quoted Rachel Greig, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, as saying.
Recent figures show one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, up from one in nine a decade ago. But even more are beating the disease thanks to earlier diagnosis and new drugs such as Herceptin.
The latest data has come from Hera trial, published in The Lancet Oncology.