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Osteoporosis Drug Seems to Shrink Breast Tumors
Date:12/11/2008

ibitor exemestane (Aromasin) had a 15 percent relative reduction in recurrences and a 19 percent reduction in the risk of distant metastasis, compared with those taking tamoxifen alone. "Exemestane is very effective at preventing recurrences," said Dr. Stephen Jones, medical director of U.S. Oncology Research in Houston. Exemestane, like other aromatase inhibitors, blocks production of estrogen, while tamoxifen, long the gold standard in breast cancer therapy, inhibits the hormone's effects in the body.
  • Seventy percent of women receiving Herceptin (trastuzumab), a drug used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, plus chemotherapy before surgery survived three years without a recurrence. Only slightly more than half of women receiving chemotherapy alone survived that long. The incidence of major heart problems was low. "Herceptin given before surgery with chemotherapy significantly [reduces the likelihood] of a recurrence in patients with advanced HER2-positive cancer, and most likely will translate into a benefit in terms of survival," said Dr. Luca Gianni, director of medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute in Milan, Italy. "We think that this data establishes preoperative Herceptin with chemotherapy as a standard treatment option for women with advanced HER2-positive breast cancer."
  • Combining lapatinib (Tykerb), another HER2 inhibitor, with an aromatase inhibitor (in this case, letrozole) prolonged progression-free survival from three months among those taking letrozole (Femara) alone to 8.2 months in women taking both drugs. These patients had HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer. "The combination shows benefits in controlling the disease and controlling it for longer than using endocrine therapy alone," said Stephen Johnston, a consultant in medical oncology and reader in breast cancer medicine at Royal Marsden Hospital and Foundation in the United Kingdom. "The suggestion is that combined therapy may be the best approa
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