YOUR HEALTH: Breast cancer drug gives patients more time

TAMPA, Florida – With a hot pink ride, decked out with lighted wheels, nothing is going to get in the way of this mother-daughter duo.

Not even cancer.

"When we first got diagnosis we sat and cried maybe half an hour to an hour and then she looked at me and said this disease is not going to beat me," said Sally McGiffin about her mother, Shannon.

That attitude and a newly-approved FDA drug called ribociclib has kept Shannon McGiffin's stage four metastic breast cancer under control.

"It's a miracle," said Shannon.  "It really is a miracle for me to be able to have survived this long."

Moffitt Cancer Center oncologist Dr. Heather Han says when combined with hormonal therapy, ribociclib stops signals that cancer cells use to grow and divide.

"I'm obviously very excited that this drug finally actually quickly got approved, and I'm able to be there to help patients to do better," said Dr. Han.

Dr. Han says the ribociclib combination can be used as the first line of defense.  The risk of progression or death has been reduced by 44%.

"It's been in clinical trial for several years, but FDA was able to approve it quickly when it showed dramatic improvement of the patients," said Dr. Han.

Candidates for this drug usually can be patients with newly diagnosed advanced breast cancer, hormone receptor positive, and HER-2 negative.

Patients' EKG must be monitored in the first few weeks of taking the drug to make sure it doesn't cause any cardiac issues.

The side effects for her have been high blood sugar levels and fatigue.

"I do spend a lot of my time sleeping," explained Shannon.

For Shannon, it's not a cure, but it has given her precious time with those who matter most.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A newly FDA- approved drug, Ribociclib, is used along with hormonal therapy to stop the signals that grow and divide cancer cells. After a clinical trial that focused on candidates with advanced cancer and no prior therapy, the analysis concluded that the risk of the cancer becoming fatal was reduced by 44 percent. This innovation can also treat women who have an HR positive receptor, which is more common in women after menopause. It not only treats patients with HR positive receptor, but with HER2 negative receptor as well. The main reason why Ribociclib, marketed as Kisqali, is innovative is because it seeks to block the protein that causes the cancer to grow.   (Source: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/fda-approves-kisqali-ribociclib-for-breast-cancer.html )

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.