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New Drug More Effective than Tamoxifen in Preventing Breast Cancer Relapse

New research appearing in the December 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine says that a new drug called as Femara is better than tamoxifen fro preventing the chances // of a relapse of breast cancer. Femara is a drug manufactured by Novartis AG and is chemically letrozole.

This belongs to a class of drugs called as the aromatase inhibitors of which Arimidex is also a part. In the current study, which was co-ordinated by the Senology Center of Eastern Switzerland in Kantonsspital, 8,000 women were assessed after taking either tamoxifen or Femara. It was found that Femara reduced the chances of breast cancer relapse by 29 percent over what tamoxifen achieved. In addition to this, Femara also conferred a 27 percent less chance of metastasis of the cancer to other parts of the body. Tamoxifen is regarded as the "gold standard" in treatment of breast cancer, but this new class of drugs is demonstrating better results in hormone-sensitive breast cancer. This is especially true in post-menopausal women, who are more prone to develop estrogen-related breast cancer. Femara works by reducing the levels of this hormone, which is essential to trigger the growth of tumors, whereas tamoxifen prevents the entry of estrogen into cancer cells. . "Five years of treatment with tamoxifen reduces the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 47% and the risk of death by 26%," wrote Dr. Beat Thurlimann and colleagues. "Despite these benefits, about half the women so treated relapse."

Femara has now been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fro use in post-menopausal women who have undergone surgery for hormone-sensitive early-stage breast cancer.

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