Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breast cancer survival rates improved by novel drug sequence

13.02.2007
Changing the way women are treated for breast cancer could improve their overall chance of survival, according to research published today in the Lancet.

The new paper shows that switching to a drug called exemestane, two to three years after commencing standard therapy with the drug tamoxifen, can cut the risk of death for certain women by a further 17% compared with using tamoxifen alone.

Postmenopausal women with early-stage hormone-sensitive primary breast cancer are usually treated with tamoxifen for five years, once they are free of disease, to reduce the risk of their cancer recurring. This therapy was once viewed as the ‘gold-standard’ treatment and it has been shown to cut the risk of death by 34%.

Over recent years, increasing numbers of these women have been receiving treatment with tamoxifen followed by Aromatase Inhibitors such as exemestane.

The Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES), which involved women from 37 different countries, has been examining the benefits of taking tamoxifen for two to three years and then switching to exemestane for the remainder of the five-year period. This new research is the first to show that early benefits of the tamoxifen and exemestane treatment sequence are maintained after treatment has stopped. The study, which was led by researchers from Imperial College London and The Institute of Cancer Research, was funded by Cancer Research UK and Pfizer.

The majority of breast cancer cases are hormone-sensitive, meaning that the cancer cells respond to oestrogen and die when they are deprived of the hormone. Tamoxifen works by preventing oestrogen from acting on cancer cells, whereas exemestane is an Aromatase Inhibitor, which works by stopping the body's production of oestrogen.

The researchers believe that during treatment with tamoxifen, some cancer cells can become resistant to the effects of the drug. Exemestane is subsequently able to kill these resistant cells by withdrawing the oestrogen from circulation.

The researchers examined 2,352 postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer who switched to exemestane, compared with another group of 2,372 women who were treated with tamoxifen alone. The women were halfway through their five-year tamoxifen treatment when they joined the study and they were followed up for a median of 56 months after this point.

The study found that the women taking exemestane had a 15% lower risk of dying than those taking only tamoxifen. When women whose tumours were found not to be hormone sensitive were excluded (8% of the total), the improvement increased to 17%.

The results of the study also suggest that sequential use of tamoxifen and exemestane is safe and well tolerated.

Professor Charles Coombes, lead author of the paper from the Cancer Research UK Department of Cancer Medicine at Imperial College London, and based at Hammersmith Hospital, said: “This study shows that, in order to get best results, patients need to be treated with a sequence of anti-hormonal treatments. Just giving one or other drug, such as has been done in some other studies, has not been shown to give added benefit in terms of improved survival. The task now is to determine what other drugs should be given in sequence to prevent cancer cells that have become resistant to exemestane from growing.”

Professor Judith Bliss, Director of The Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research said: “This trial is an excellent example of how international collaborations between researchers and clinicians can be quickly translated into a cost effective treatment strategy providing patient benefit. To the many postmenopausal breast cancer patients around the world this new research offers the hope of improved treatment options.”

Current practice is to give patients treatment for a period of time after surgery and then stop. Following this, doctors wait for a recurrence of the cancer, at which point it is often impossible to cure the disease.

Professor Coombes added: “The other challenge is to find a way of monitoring breast cancer to find a blood test that can tell us when some cancer cells are once more growing. This will allow us to time the sequence of treatment more accurately. A test for early resistance would give us a chance of curing the disease whilst it is still at an early stage.”

Laura Gallagher | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Correct connections are crucial
26.06.2017 | Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New 3-D model predicts best planting practices for farmers

26.06.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Correct connections are crucial

26.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>