The health department is considering shortening breast cancer treatment for patients eligible for Roche’s costly trastuzumab, in the wake of a large study that found halving the duration of therapy to six months was just as effective as a year, and reduced the risk of dangerous heart problems.

The high cost of trastuzumab has been a barrier to treatment in both the public and private sector in SA. The health department only added it to its treatment guidelines in 2017, and provision of the drug by provincial health departments has remained limited due to its price.

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