CLEVELAND (WJW) — A new study found a breast cancer treatment drug can extend the life of patients with a non-curable form of the disease.

The Cleveland Clinic is one of several institutions who took part in the research published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study also reveals slowed growth of breast cancer during treatment.

“The average survival for people who received the Trastuzumab Deruxtecan target therapy was about six months longer than those who received traditional chemotherapy,” said Dr. Halle Moore, Director of Breast Medical Oncology at the Cleveland Clinic. “What this study found is for these individuals with HER2 low negative metastatic breast cancer compared with standard chemotherapy, the novel treatment delayed the time before which the cancer would progress or grow by about twice as long.”

Mary Smrekar of Montville Township participated in the clinical trial and said the breast cancer treatment added years to her life.

“For me it made a difference, it’s giving me at least two years,” she said. “I’m hoping for a little while longer.”

Smrekar was initially diagnosed in 2010 then suffered a recurrence in 2020. The nurse practitioner at the Cleveland Clinic said it was devastating not knowing what her outcome with breast cancer would be so she joined the clinical trial.

“My daughter is getting married next month,” said Smrekar. “I’m really happy I was able to get this far. When I was getting the chemotherapy, I was more negative, pessimistic and now I just have more hope.”

Severe complications related to lung function including death were reported as part of the study.

“For those who have advanced breast cancer, which is generally considered to have very low chance for cure, now have another treatment that can help control the cancer but to also help them live longer so that next treatment advance can come along,” said Dr. Moore.