A federal panel is endorsing a cancer drug that could be given before surgery to remove tumors. 

The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee yesterday recommended that a drug approved last year for late-stage breast cancer could also be used in the earliest stages of the disease.  

Treatment with the drug, called Perjeta, before surgery might help make it possible to operate on what would otherwise be inoperable tumors. 

It could also make tumors small enough to be removed without removing the entire breast. The committee's endorsement is seen as opening the door for the full FDA to approve the drug.