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Aromasin Reduced Breast Cancer Risk in Postmenopausal Women
Date:6/5/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- The anti-estrogen drug Aromasin appears to cut the odds of breast cancer by 65 percent in high-risk postmenopausal women, new research has found.

And unlike other anti-estrogen therapies such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, Aromasin (exemestane) did not carry a heightened risk of endocrine cancer or blood clots, although it did have the well-known problems of hot flashes and joint stiffness also attributable to tamoxifen and raloxifene, the study authors said.

Estrogen is a primary fuel behind many breast cancers.

"This may add another potential drug for these women," said Dr. Jennifer Litton, a breast medical oncologist with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "Hot flashes, joint stiffness were more pronounced but it [Aromasin] doesn't have the blood clot and uterine cancer risk."

Aromasin, an aromatase inhibitor now available in generic form, is currently approved for early breast cancer patients but not to prevent tumors.

This new trial, the results of which were presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, is the first to look at drug's use for prevention. The study results were published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Tamoxifen and its sister drug, raloxifene, which combat estrogen by a different mechanism, are approved for breast cancer prevention in high-risk women but both have serious, albeit rare, side effects, including endometrial cancer and blood clots.

Tamoxifen has been shown to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer by 38 percent, but the risk of side effects seems to have deterred many women. Only 4 percent of women eligible to take tamoxifen actually do so, noted Dr. Paul E. Goss, lead author of the new study and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General
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