Thursday, May 1, 2008

Follow-up Treatment Reduces Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk

Women who receive letrozole (Femara) following tamoxifen treatment have a decreased risk of breast cancer recurrence — even when they begin the second drug up to seven years after tamoxifen treatment — according to Paul E. Goss, MD, PhD, director of Breast Cancer Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and an Avon Foundation Senior Scholar.

Letrozole is a member of a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors that suppress estrogen production. The effectiveness of tamoxifin, another estrogen blocker, decreases after five years, making it essential that women with hormone-dependent breast cancer have new treatment options.

Women enrolled in the trial chose whether to receive letrozole, as opposed to being randomly assigned, which may have created a bias in the results. Nevertheless, says Goss, “Every woman who has previously taken tamoxifen should discuss these new results with her oncologist. The risk that hormone-dependent breast cancer will recur continues indefinitely, and our results imply that aromatase inhibition is effective whenever initiated.” Goss was lead investigator on the study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in March.

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