The new breast cancer drug Ibrance (palbociclib) is showing promise as a hormone based cancer treatment for advanced breast cancer. This new treatment is intended to help breast cancer patients who are post menopausal and whose metastatic cancer tests positive for an estrogen receptor (ER), as well as tests negative for the HER2 protein.

In this new cancer education video oncologist Dr. Stephen Lemon talks about how this targeted therapy works, as well what types of side effects patients may experience from this treatment.

Advanced or metastatic breast cancer refers to a cancer that is still active in the body and cannot be completely removed by surgery. The breast cancer may have come back or spread after an initial treatment for early stage disease, early stage is stage I or II.

How Ibrance Works
Ibrance effectively by preventing the normal protein and enzyme from getting together in the cancer cell, so the cancer cell dies. Unlike traditional chemotherapy treatments that often attack both cancer cells and healthyIbrance Breast Cancer Treatment Criteria cells, Ibrance is a new type of cancer treatment drug that is called a Targeted Therapy.  It acts like a smart bomb to knock out cancer, while minimizing the harm to a patient’s healthy cells.

Ibrance must be taken with another breast cancer medication, called Femara. Its generic name is letrozole. Femara treats breast cancer by lowering the level of estrogen in the body.
Femara has been previously approved for the treatment of early and late stage breast cancer. Femara is a pill taken by mouth every day. Ibrance is also a pill, which patients take by mouth every day for 21 days, followed by 7 days off. This treatment cycle is then repeated. Ibrance is an important new cancer drug that when combined with the cancer drug Femara is showing promise in breast cancer patients, without the cancer growing or spreading.

Possible Treatment Side Effects
With the Ibrance treatment, patients are likely to have low blood cell counts that may result in infections, so regular blood testing should be expected. Patients may also experience fatigue, nausea, mouth sores and hair loss. These side effects are generally mild and manageable.

Possible serious side effects from this treatment may include the following: Symptoms of trouble breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, or fever could be signs of more serious side effects.
Ibrance can cause fetal harm, as well, so it is important to not be pregnant or become pregnant while taking Ibrance. The drug may also can get into breast milk, so breast feeding is not recommended.

Talk to your doctor to find out if Ibrance (palbociclib) is appropriate for your breast cancer treatment.

Ibrance is made by Pfizer. Dr. Stephen Lemon is a medical oncologist at Oncology Associates and is not affiliated with Pfizer.

More Cancer Information
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Watch videos and read stories of breast cancer survivors.