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Meg Farris / Medical Reporter

NEW ORLEANS -- Caught in an early stage, breast cancer is curable. But once it spreads, treatments can only control its spread and manage symptoms.

But now a new drug being tested in Metairie is showing promise for advanced breast cancer, and you may be able to join the free study.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer go through many emotions. For Elizabeth Esposito, it was fear.

''I'm going to not be able to do anything anymore.' That's what I thought,' said Esposito. 'I thought I was going to be bedridden which was completely not true.'

Thanks to the progress in medicine, Esposito has lived with advanced breast cancer now for nine years. And now there is a study in Metairie and Lafayette to test a new kind of medicine that is showing promise against advanced breast cancer. It's for patients with HER2 positive breast cancer that has spread.

'In phase one study, the appropriate dose was discovered. And then in a phase two study, where everybody received the drug, these were patients who had had a lot of prior therapy, it showed significant activity. So now it's moving to phase three where it's being compared with standard therapy,' said Dr. Melody Cobleigh, an oncologist and internist at Rush University in Chicago.

The new drug called T-DM1 is being tested at 107 sites in 37 states. Women and men patients who qualify will get all tests and the new drug free.

'The type of trial we are talking about here is one where the agent has already proven to be effective now we have to go one step further and do a larger study to compare it with standard therapy to show if it's better than traditional therapy,' said Dr. Cobleigh.

The doctors running the study, called EMILIA, believe it will be better and safer than traditional treatments, but that has to be proven.

Esposito hopes this will prove to be a major advancement for others who walk in her shoes.

'I'm keeping my faith in just being strong and keeping myself healthy. I do feel that there's more and more progress with developing new treatments and new drugs that have been able to treat this cancer and I've had a lot of good results,' said Esposito.

To see if you qualify, click here, or call or e-mail a local site:

Hematology & Oncology Specialists
4228 Houma Boulevard Suite 130
Metairie, LA 70006-2936
Phone: 504-885-8220
Study Coordinator: Mary Ann Ostroke
Coordinator e-mail: mostroske@cancercareofla.com

Cancer Center of Acadiana at Lafayette
1211 Coolidge Blvd, #100
Lafayette, LA 70503
Phone: 337-232-2520
Study Coordinator: Rebecca Donohue
Coordinator e-mail: rbdonohue@lgmc.com

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