Living Longer with Breast Cancer

The chances of a woman developing breast cancer in her lifetime remain high, but there is good news in terms of post-treatment survival which is up to 89.7% (for five years). The high survival rates are due, in large part, to advances in treatment options. One of these is the medication Xeloda® (capecitabine) from Genentech.

Xeloda is an oral FDA-approved medication that can be used alone or in combination with other medications to treat breast cancer. A late-breaking study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports on the long-term health of 910 women with HER2-negative invasive breast cancer who were previously treated with chemotherapy and surgery, although their tumors were not completely eradicated. These women were followed after treatment, with half prescribed Xeloda and the other half taking a placebo after the cancer treatment.

The results were so clearly beneficial for the Xeloda group that the study was terminated early. Analysis revealed that survival lengthened in the Xeloda group compared to the control group. In fact, there was a 30% lower risk of cancer recurrence or death over five years in the Xeloda group. By the end of five years, 89% of Xeloda patients were still alive (compared to 84% of placebo patients).

Xeloda induces fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy; however, Xeloda does cause some minor and bothersome side effects such as a red swelling of the palms of the hands and feet (affecting 75% of patients). BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy pharmacists are well-versed in this medication are readily able to help patients manage the side effects of this effective cancer medication. In addition, our patient financial coordinators are very experienced in finding co-pay and funding assistance for patients who need some help to pay for Xeloda.


Masuda N, Lee S-L, Ohtani S, et al. Adjuvant capecitabine for breast cancer after preoperative chemotherapy. New Engl J Med 2017;376:2147-59.

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