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Thursday 24th May 2018

New hope for breast cancer

13th February 2007

Women with oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer have been given fresh hope of surviving the disease, following new research.


Cancer Research UK scientists have found that if traditional tamoxifen treatment is combined with the drug exemestane, death rates are reduced by 17%. Tamoxifen already cuts a woman’s chances of dying from hormone-sensitive breast cancer by 33% and scientists now know that using both drugs halves a woman’s chances of succumbing to the disease. Cancer Research UK estimates that 1,300 deaths each year could be prevented if tamoxifen and then exemestane were used to treat women with oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

Exemestane is sold under the brand name Aromasin and is in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. It works by reducing the production of oestrogen, the hormone thought to be responsible for up to 85% of breast cancers in the UK. Exemestane is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an alternative to tamoxifen after two to three years of initial tamoxifen therapy but is not available to all women. Professor Charles Coombes of Cancer Research UK said switching from tamoxifen to exemestane part-way through treatment also seemed to ensure women avoided the side-effects of long-term tamoxifen-only therapy, such as cancer of the womb and deep vein thrombosis.

Dr Alexis Willett, of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, embraced the research saying, "This will be very welcome news for many post-menopausal women with oestrogen-sensitive early breast cancer. Aromatase inhibitors, like exemestane, now increase the treatment options available for breast cancer patients. However, it is important to remember that they are not suitable for everyone."

Around 31,000 post-menopausal women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year.


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M. Whitehead

Monday 5th March 2007 @ 14:44

There are three aromatase inhibitors available; what news of the other two and the reduction in mortality rates, and how long should they be taken?

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Article Information

Title: New hope for breast cancer
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 1978
Date Added: 13th Feb 2007


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