A combination therapy for patients suffering from one of the fastest growing and most aggressive types of breast cancer showed promising results in a study published by The Lancet Journal.

Two chemotherapy medications typically reserved for the treatment of late-stage inoperable tumors - GlaxoSmithKline’s Tykerb and Roche’s Herceptin – were combined and evaluated in 455 women with early stages of HER2 positive breast cancer.

The drug combo was nearly twice as effective as using either independently. Tumors in those who received the combination treatment before surgery were on average 20 percent smaller after six weeks compared to patients who took either of the medications alone.

"Our study also supports investigation of novel targeted agents for breast cancer in the neoadjuvant setting, when tumors have not yet acquired resistance to therapy and when chances of clinical benefit are highest,” wrote lead researchers Jose Baselga, associate director at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston.

GlaxoSmithKline funded study.