HER2-positive breast cancer patient treated with newly approved drugs



HER2-positive breast cancer is an aggressive form of cancer, accounting for about 20 percent of all breast cancer cases. Now doctors say two separate treatments, newly approved by the FDA, are available for patients with HER2-positive cancer that has spread.

Joyce Gruss. who loves to play with his Jack Russel Terrier, fights an aggressive form of breast cancer. He’s back for the second time and has spread to his liver. “What was happening was my liver was so swollen. It was as if you could feel it through your rib cage.

Doctors diagnosed Gruss with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, which means she had a high level of growth protein on her breast cancer cells.

“There have been a number of drugs that target this HER2 protein,” said David Riseberg, medical oncologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

One drug, Tukysa, was approved in April 2020. Another drug, Enhertu, had been approved three months earlier. Right now, Enhertu is preventing Joyce’s cancer from progressing.

“The more tools we have in our toolbox, the more we have to offer our patients,” said Dr Riseberg.

When Gruss started treatment for recurrence in 2018, Dr Riseberg wasn’t sure he had a lot of time, she said, “he was brutally honest. He said to me: ‘you probably have two or three years to live’. He said to me the other day, “I’m so glad I was wrong.” So I said, ‘I am too’. You know, you literally live one day at a time.

Gruss was the first person in her family to be diagnosed with breast cancer, but her 80-year-old grandmother was recently diagnosed with the same form of the disease. Gruss says she is happy to be able to support her mother throughout the treatment.

To support women in the fight against breast cancer, WINK News is sponsoring the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. The walk will take place on Saturday October 2 at 4:30 p.m. at North Collier Park. For more information or to donate, visit the Making Strides SWFL website here.

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