NEW ORLEANS -- A new drug is now available that helps slow down breast cancer progression.
Once breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, survival rates drop. Ivis Sampayo remembers the scare she got when she was only 38 years old.
"It was 24 years ago, and I had given birth to my youngest son and I was feeling a strange sensation in my breast. And I had spoken to my OB/GYN, but he kept feeling that it was nothing," remembers Sampayo, who lives in New York and is a two-time breast cancer survivor.
It was stage 2B breast cancer. Since then, she has worked hard with "Share", a 40-year-old non-profit that provides peer support, education and wellness programs for those with breast and ovarian cancers.
"We train women who are survivors of breast, ovarian cancer, to facilitate groups, to go out into the community, handle helpline calls, and deal directly with the women who are dealing with this disease as well as caregivers," said Sampayo, who is the Senior Director of Programs at Share.
Now, the FDA has approved a completely new class of drugs. Kisqali is the first to help women with stage 3 and 4 breast cancer.
"(It) stops the tumor cell before it can enter the growth phase, and so it's unable to cycle through cell division, where the cancer cells are able to multiply, become bigger tumors and actually send off new tumor sites," explained Principal Investigator Dr. Denise Yardley at Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville.
When combined with anti-hormone treatment, doctors saw a doubling in the amount of time that cancer cells stayed controlled.
"I think what's really exciting is, it's not chemotherapy. It's an oral therapy. Patients can take this pill in combination with their anti-estrogen tablet in the convenience of their home and have excellent quality of life," said Dr. Yardley.
Kisqali has now come to the New Orleans area at the Ochsner Specialty Pharmacy and, while it's expensive, is covered by insurance.
"It's exciting. It brings hope. It's expanding their life, the women that are dealing with this. It's a better quality of life," said Sampayo.
For more on "Share" support groups and telephone support groups:
For more on the science behind Kisqali, (chemical name: Ribociclib):
For more on the side effects from Kisqali:
For more on the Ochsner Specialty Pharmacy: