Breast cancer breakthrough

Simulated cancer cells in the breast
Simulated cancer cells in the breast

(NBC) - New drugs are offering a promising new option for women battling breast cancer.

Baylor breast cancer specialist Dr. Cynthia Osborne calls it one of the biggest cancer treatment breakthroughs of her career.

Dr. Osborne has been assisting with studies of a new class of anti-cancer pills called PARP inhibitors.

"As a class of drugs, these are definitely going to change the face of breast cancer for these types of breast cancer patients," Osborne said.

Two new studies suggest the drug kills cancerous tumors in patients genetically predisposed to developing cancer. These patients have mutations in the BRCA 1 and 2 genes.

"These were very difficult to treat patients in the past, and now I have an option besides standard chemotherapy," said Osborne.

Dr. Osborne says unlike chemotherapy, the pills target only cancerous cells and leave the healthy ones unharmed.

"Now we can actually target these cells to go after their sort of Achilles heel where they are weak and force those cells specifically to die off," said Osborne.

And while the studies so far have been small, the results have been anything but.  Most patients saw their cancer stop or start to go away.

The new pills cause none of the side effects associated with chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting or hair loss.

Doctors say patients interested in trying this drug should seek out clinical trials at