breast cancer

Each year, the Food and Drug Administration approves dozens of drugs, but often those medicines don't make a huge difference to people with disease. That's because these "new" drugs are often very much like existing medicines — or are, in fact, existing medicines, approved for a slightly different purpose.

But every now and then the FDA approves a truly new drug. And that's the story of Pfizer's palbociclib, brand name Ibrance, which the agency approved for the treatment of a common form of advanced breast cancer.

Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.

Kevin Willis

When Brenda Bradley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, she had no idea she would soon become one of the first American women to undergo a radically different approach to radiation treatment.

Bradley lives in the Hardin County town of Stephensburg with her husband, Tony. After Brenda received a lumpectomy, she and Tony discussed radiation treatment options with Dr. Anthony Dragun at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville.

“And he asked would we be willing to become part of a study," recalls Brenda. "And we talked about it and went back and said ‘absolutely.’”

The program Dr. Dragun was proposing would drastically cut down on the traveling time and number of radiation sessions Brenda Bradley would endure. Instead of driving from Stephensburg to Louisville five days a week for up to seven weeks, Dr. Dragun told Brenda she could instead receive radiation once a week for five weeks.

“And he got us from 30 or 35 treatments to five. And we’ve never had a reason to look back. It worked so well, it was unbelievable,” the Hardin County native says.