Friday, 12 December 2014

New Treatment Shows Promise in Younger Breast Cancer Patients: Study


Suppressing the ovaries and adding an anti-estrogen drug reduced recurrence in premenopausal women

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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A treatment known as ovarian suppression used along with an anti-estrogen drug normally given to older women appears to greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in some younger women, new research suggests.

This combination approach -- using estrogen-blockers known as aromatase inhibitors -- was the most effective of three treatments tested in women with early stage breast cancer, said Dr. Prudence Francis, head of breast medical oncology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria, Australia.

She is scheduled to present her findings Thursday at a breast cancer meeting in San Antonio. The results will be published online simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hormone receptor-positive breast cancer -- the most common type of breast cancer -- needs either estrogen or progesterone to grow.

Aromatase inhibitors are typically used only in women past menopause. Generally, it is believed that "aromatase inhibitors don't work in younger women because [premenopausal women produce] too much estrogen," Francis said.

Francis and colleagues from the International Breast Cancer Study Group compared the different treatments in more than 3,000 women.

All had hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. About one-third were assigned tamoxifen -- another estrogen-blocker -- while one-third received tamoxifen plus ovarian suppression. The others received an aromatase inhibitor, exemestane (Aromasin), plus ovarian suppression. Each regimen lasted five years.

Most women assigned to ovarian suppression chose a monthly injection to suppress the ovaries' estrogen production. Other options were surgical removal of the ovaries or radiation of the ovaries.

Women who underwent ovarian suppression had better results than those taking tamoxifen alone. And the benefits were most pronounced in women younger than 35. However, the best results were seen when ovarian suppression was paired with the aromatase inhibitor, Francis said.

In patients who had chemotherapy and remained premenopausal, adding ovarian suppression to tamoxifen led to four or five fewer patients in 100 having a recurrence within five years, the researchers found.

But in the group that received ovarian suppression plus exemestane, seven or eight fewer patients in 100 had a recurrence within that time frame.

source : New Treatment Shows Promise in Younger Breast Cancer Patients: Study

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