Oestrogen drugs help in breast cancer battle, new study shows
Breast cancer drugs that suppress the body's production of oestrogen significantly reduce the risk of premature death, a study has shown.
The findings are expected to influence clinical guidelines on prescribing aromatase inhibitors, which were already known to be effective at preventing cancer recurrence.
Post-menopausal women with the most common type of breast cancer are eligible for treatment with the drugs, which stop tumour growth being fuelled by the hormone oestrogen.
The new study, which analysed pooled data from nine clinical trials involving 31,920 women, looked at the effect on death rates of taking aromatase inhibitors for five years. It found that compared with no treatment, the drugs reduced the risk of postmenopausal women with hormone-sensitive (ER-positive) breast cancer dying within 10 years by 40%.
Lead scientist Professor Mitch Dowsett said: "Aromatase inhibitors remove only the tiny amount of oestrogen that remains in the circulation of women after the menopause - but that's enough to have a substantial impact on a wide range of ER-positive tumours."