New Developments in Breast Cancer

New Developments in Breast Cancer

Drug halves breast cancer risk for vulnerable women

Post-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer more than halved the risk of developing the disease by taking an anti hormone drug called anastrozole, researchers reported in The Lancet on Thursday.

Doctor at Queen Mary University in London found a reduction in risk of 53 per cent among volunteers who took the drug for five years, compared to counterparts who took a harmless look alike called a placebo. Anastrozole is not only more effective than the two standard drugs for preventing breast-cancer, tamoxifen and raloxifene, it also has fewer side effects, they added.

The study enrolled 3,864 postmenopausal women considered to have a high inherited risk of breast cancer.

They were deemed to be in this category if they had had two or more blood relatives with breast cancer, had a mother or sister who developed breast cancer before the age of 50 or had a mother or sister who had cancer in both breasts.

At the follow-up-point, five years after enrolment, 40 women in the anastrozole group had developed breast cancer compared to 85 women in the placebo group.

“This research is an exciting development in breast cancer prevention. We now know anastrozole should be the drug of choice when it comes to reducing the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women with a family history or other risk factor for the disease,” said Jack Cuzick, head of the university’s Center for Cancer Prevention.

“This class of drugs is more effective than previous drugs such as tamoxifen and crucially, it has fewer side effects.” Side effects were rare, mostly comprising small increases in muscle aches and pains, and hot flashes, according to Cuzick.

“Our priority now is ensuring that as many women as possible can benefit from these new findings,” he said.

Anastrozole marketed under the brand name Arimidex, works by preventing the body from making the hormone oestrogen, a source for many breast cancers.