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Women with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer may fare just as well on shorter course of treatment with Herceptin (trastuzumab) as longer ones, NPR reports.

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge's Helena Earl enrolled 4,000 women with HER2-positive breast cancer into their study, dividing them into two groups. One group received the standard of care, a 12-month course of trastuzumab, while the other got a shorter, six-month course of the drug, as NPR reports. After five years, Earl and her colleagues found survival to be the same between the groups. The results, NPR says, are to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference in June. It also notes the stud was funded by the UK government.

The women who received the six-month course of treatment experienced fewer side effects of the drug, which can include headaches, diarrhea, sleep troubles, and heart issues, NPR adds. The shorter regimen, the New York Times notes, is also cheaper.

"This could be absolutely practice-changing for a lot of patients," MD Anderson Cancer Center's Jennifer Litton tells the Times. She adds, though that "I'd like to see the data, and see it peer-reviewed, before I make a big practice change."

A spokesperson from Genentech, which makes Herceptin, tells the Times that previous studies had not found a shorter regimen to be as good as a longer one.