Experimental drug helps fight advanced breast cancer - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

FOX Medical Team

Experimental drug helps fight advanced breast cancer

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

Ann Wertz has stared down cancer not once, but three times – and she's only 54. But for the last two years, Wertz has helped test a new drug that may be a breakthrough for women with advanced breast cancer.

After they lost their two cats, Ann Wertz's dog-loving husband Steve recently surprised her with two Siberian kittens.      

"They're like dogs! They fetch, they turn over and they like their bellies scratched," Ann Wertz said.

It's a sweet moment in a hard-fought eight years.

In 2005, the Atlanta mother of two was diagnosed out of the blue with breast cancer. Ann went through a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She and Steve shaved their heads, before the hardcore chemo made Ann's hair fall out. But, three years later, the cancer came back, this time with a vengeance.

"It had spread to my bones, all over, to my liver, to the lymph nodes around my kidneys, and in my chest wall," Ann Wertz said.

Ann has tried more cancer drugs than she can count. Two years ago, she found Kadcyla, a first-of-its-kind "targeted" breast cancer drug. She volunteered to test it in a clinical trial for women with advanced HER-2 positive breast cancer, which is about 7.5 percent of all breast cancer patients.

Dr. Robert Hermann, director of clinical trials at Northwest Georgia Oncology, says most traditional chemo is like dropping a huge bomb on the whole body:  it can damage both the cancer and the healthy cells,  But Kadcyla is like a missile, targeted directly into the tumor cells.
   
"Rather than seek-and-destroy, it's target-and-control," Hermann said. "It internalizes and therefore doesn't leak into the blood stream where it can cause other side effects, so the side effects have really been very minimal."  

For Ann, the drug worked.

"And my next CT scan afterwards showed cancer-free," said Ann Wertz.

She never experienced any nasty side effects.

"I didn't lose my hair, I didn't have mouth sores," she said.

Kadcyla is not a cure. In this study, it bought women with advanced cancer like Ann, on average, about six more months of survival. Ann is at two years and counting, grateful that more women can now try this drug she helped test.

"And I hope it will work as well for them as it has for me," she said.

Kadcyla got FDA approval in late February.

Finding new treatments like this become a mission for Ann and Steve.

Last spring, Ann was diagnosed with brain cancer, which Kadcyla is not designed to treat.

She's taking it day by day and says she's doing really well.

To read more about Ann Wertz's story, or learn more about Northwest Georgia Oncology Centers, go to http://www.ngoc.com/

  • More Health NewsMore>>

  • Patients urged to 'partner' with caregivers & doctor

    Patients urged to 'partner' with caregivers & doctor

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-07-23 13:59:23 GMT
    One woman teamed up with her doctors and got some answers to her health problems.
    One woman teamed up with her doctors and got some answers to her health problems.
  • FOX Medical Team

    5 fat-burning foods you should try

    5 fat-burning foods you should try

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:44 AM EDT2014-07-22 11:44:51 GMT
    Tired of working out with no payoff, or counting calories and still not losing weight? Healthy chef Nancy Waldeck at the Family Wellness Center at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital pulled together five fat-burning foods you need to discover!
    Tired of working out with no payoff, or counting calories and still not losing weight? Healthy chef Nancy Waldeck at the Family Wellness Center at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital pulled together five fat-burning foods you need to discover!
  • Summer camp helps kids with Tourette's syndrome

    Summer camp helps kids with Tourette's syndrome

    FOX Medical TeamFOX Medical Team
    A summer camp for children with Tourette's syndrome is helping children embrace their disorder.
    A summer camp for children with Tourette's syndrome is helping children embrace their disorder.
Powered by WorldNow

KDFW FOX 4
400 N. Griffin Street
Dallas, Texas 75202

Main Station Directory:
(214) 720-4444
News Fax:
(214) 720-3263 or (214) 720-3333

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices