Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hormone drug type makes survival difference in advanced breast cancer

Aromatase inhibitors, a type of hormone therapy used to treat advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women, result in a small but significant increase in overall survival when compared to other hormone treatments, according to a new systematic review of studies.

In addition, aromatase inhibitors -- drugs known as Arimidex, Aromasin and Femara -- are less likely to cause blood clots and vaginal bleeding than other hormone treatments, said review co-author Judith Bliss of the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

The review analyzed 30 studies involving the treatment of advanced breast cancer, encompassing more than 10,000 postmenopausal women.

Bliss and colleagues were surprised at how few of the reviewed studies presented data on overall survival for women taking aromatase inhibitors. "Survival data was only available for about half of the women," Bliss said.

The available data showed an 11 percent reduction in the risk of death compared to women not receiving aromatase inhibitors.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

The treatment of advanced breast cancer in women who have gone through menopause usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormonal and biological therapies. In many breast cancers, estrogen stimulates tumor growth. Aromatase inhibitors work by limiting a woman's production of estrogen.

Several aromatase inhibitors, including anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin) and letrozole (Femara) have been available for clinical use for the past decade or so.

Other breast cancer treatments that also affect estrogen include tamoxifen and progestins. Tamoxifen is the most widely used hormonal treatment in advanced breast cancer; however, it carries a risk of blood clots and other rare but potentially serious side effects.

Bliss said that the review found very little reliable data in the trials comparing the effectiveness of the different available aromatase inhibitors. "The promotion of one individual drug over another is not evidence-based and should be avoided," the authors said.

In general, women taking aromatase inhibitors had about the same risk of experiencing hot flashes as those receiving tamoxifen. However, they reported more nausea, vomiting and diarrhea when compared to patients receiving the progestin drug megestrol acetate and to a lesser extent, when compared with patients receiving tamoxifen.

Patients taking aromatase inhibitors had a decreased risk of vaginal bleeding and blood clots compared to those using other hormonal therapies.

Safety data were difficult to analyze, Bliss said: "The picture is patchy due to poor quality of adverse event reporting and different study endpoints," in the various trials.

However, "the review findings do confirm modest, but real therapeutic benefits from the use of aromatase inhibitors in a variety of clinical settings," Bliss said.

Edith Perez, M.D., an oncologist with the Multidisciplinary Breast Cancer Program at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., said, "The results of the review are not a surprise. These are good drugs and they have positively impacted the lives of patients with breast cancer." Perez is not associated with the review.

Perez believes that aromatase inhibitors are the first drug of choice for hormonal treatment of advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women. "They have a slightly improved efficacy over tamoxifen, and they have a much lower rate of blood clots in the legs and lungs," she said. "Aromatase inhibitors carry almost no risk of uterine cancer, and while that rarely happens with tamoxifen, it does happen."

On the other hand, Perez said that aromatase inhibitors do carry a risk of increased joint aches and, more importantly, may cause bone loss. "The majority of patients do very well but we recommend patients have bone density tests before using these drugs. I would probably not use aromatase inhibitors in a patient with severe osteoporosis."

While per-tablet cost of aromatase inhibitors is higher than tamoxifen, Perez said that they are still cost-effective because they have fewer side effects requiring treatment and they result in increased overall survival.

"It's no question that these drugs are better for patients when compared with other hormone therapies," Perez said.

Lisa Esposito | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Perez Tamoxifen aromatase aromatase inhibitors blood clots breast cancer clots

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>