Breast cancer drug Tykerb to be subsidised

Women suffering from a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer will have access to a new drug lapatinib (Tykerb) on the PBS that will improve quality of life and prolong some lives, reported by Australian Department of Health and Ageing.

From May 1, lapatinib (Tykerb) will be listed on the PBS. This is important news for people with advanced HER-2 positive breast cancer.

HER-2 positive breast cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that particularly impacts upon younger women. Around 87 per cent of patients diagnosed with advanced breast cancer will die from the disease within five years. About 2,000 Australians are diagnosed with HER-2 positive breast cancer each year.

Advanced HER-2 positive breast cancer is one that has spread to distant parts of the body (metastasised) or which cannot be removed with surgery’.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and affects 14,000 Australians per year. In 2004, more than 2,600 people died from the disease in Australia.

Lapitinib has been found to slow the progress of and improve symptoms associated with advanced HER-2 positive breast cancer.

Without any subsidy, the medicine would cost women between $3,500 and $4,000 each month.

Lapatinib will be available to people with HER-2 positive metastatic or advanced breast cancer for whom other treatments have proved ineffective.

Source: Department of Health and Ageing, Australia

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