Nightly News | December 19, 2011
>>> back now with news about an experiment that may result in a big change in the fight against breast cancer . right now as you may know it typically takes a decade or more to prove that a new drug works, then to get it approved for women who desperately need it and to get it to market. tonight our chief science correspondent robert bazell tells us about an attempt to try to accelerate that process.
>> reporter: kerry is 38, married, works in finance and has two children -- 6 and 3. last year she got a frightening diagnosis. aggressive breast cancer .
>> work was going well. life was going well. i was incredibly fit.
>> reporter: she enrolled in a clinical trials known as ispy-2. not just trying to find better drugs but trying to find them faster, speeding up a process that now takes 10 to 15 years. dr. esserman of the university of california san francisco heads ispy-2.
>> when someone comes in the door with a bad cancer they don't have ten years to wait. they need something to work in the next six months.
>> reporter: traditionally cancer patients undergo chemotherapy after surgery and radiation to try to keep the cancer from returning. the key to ispy-2 is giving chemotherapy beforehand.
>> this is a dangerous tumor at this time.
>> reporter: then using mri scans to see what works best to shrink the tumor.
>> almost all of it is gone.
>> reporter: dr. esserman says women have to leave the tumor in place for a few months during the chemo.
>> we'll use every trick we have. you're going to get it all. we're just going to change the order in which we get it.
>> reporter: researchers have no trouble finding volunteers. lisa signed up last year.
>> cancer sucks. since i do have to go through this, maybe they can gain some knowledge from me that will make somebody else's life a little bit better.
>> reporter: ispy-2 is just starting so there are limited results. the hope is the trial will quickly identify drugs to help thousands of women to stay cancer-free.
>> the tumor seems to be completely gone.
>> reporter: robert bazell , nbc news, san francisco .