Drug Battles Breast Cancer Relapse - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/10/04

Drug Battles Breast Cancer Relapse

There is more promising news in the fight against cancer. A drug to treat advanced breast cancer is proving to be more effective at keeping the disease from coming back than the gold standard therapy.

The study of nearly 5,000 breast cancer patients finds women who switched to a drug called Exemestane after 2 to 3 years of Tamoxifen, had a longer period of cancer free survival compared to women who were on Tamoxifen for the standard five years.

"In the group that switched, breast cancer recurrence was reduced by one third and five percent more of the women who switched were alive and free of disease at five years," explains Jeff Abrams from the National Cancer Institute.

Like Tamoxifen, Exemestane affects the body's production of estrogen, which feeds some tumors. Women in the study who took this new therapy also had a lower risk of the disease spreading to other organs.

Exemestane which is sold under the name Aroma sin is one of a new class of drugs that is showing promise as a way to extend or improve the cancer fighting effects of Tamoxifen. While Tamoxifen is effective in helping reduce the risk of recurrence, cancer often comes back after the therapy ends and some cancers become resistant to the drug.these drugs are designed for women with breast cancer in which the hormone estrogen fuels tumor growth the type causing about 70% of breast cancer.

The study was led at Imperial College School of Medicine in London, and involved institutions in 37 countries and is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was partly funded by Pfizer Inc., the maker of Aromasin.

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