Nightly News   |  February 22, 2013

New drug targets aggressive breast cancer cases

A drug called Kadcyla is offering hope to women diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. The drug is not a cure but does extend life by an average of 9.6 months. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> now to the news a lot of people woke up to this morning about a so-called smart bomb new breast cancer drug, a first of its kind medication approved today by the fda. it is getting a lot of attention tonight. but this new drug isn't an answer for everyone. we've asked our chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman , to join us tonight. we wish there weren't so many caveats, but there are.

>> there are caveats. it's a designer drug , of sorts, brian. but the fda today said yes, there is a new cancer drug to treat the most aggressive form of breast cancer . it affects more women in this country than any other kind of cancer other than skin cancer . more than 232,000 new cases diagnosed this year. and a reminder, men get it too. more than 2,000 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer . but among one of the most aggressive forms of the disease is something called her-2 new positive breast cancer . and in that case, one in five women will have that genetic mutation and that's where this drug comes in. it's called kadcyla and targets this kind of breast cancer . and i want to underscore, it is not a cure. but it's promising in that it extends the life span to about 9.6 months of progression-free disease. that means the disease does not get worse. kadcyla, however, does not come cheap. the maker, genentech told us the estimated cost for the course of the treatment can be up to $94,000. so while the headlines are catching, i wanted to underscore that that it is not a cure. the price tag is big. and it doesn't mean that it's without its side effects , too. women can still feel pretty lousy.

>> a ton of caveats amid the good news. nancy, thanks, as always.