A new cancer treatment could help extend the life expectancy of those patients who have seen the disease spread from the breast to the brain.
This is the main conclusion from research carried out at the Medical University of Vienna, which analysed 43 women who had Her2-positive breast cancer that had since developed in the brain.
Scientists found that treatment with lapatinib almost doubled the survival time of patients when compared to herceptin – the current standard drug used in such cases.
The prevalence of Her2-positive breast cancer has increased over the last ten years and the disease has a higher chance of causing brain tumours than other types, explained the doctors.
"We now need to look at the effect of lapatinib in a larger group of women with Her2-positive breast cancer to see if the same improvements in survival are seen," said Guenther Steger, who worked on the study.
According to Cancer Research UK, lapatinib treats tumours by inhibiting proteins which stimulate their growth.