A NEW hormone therapy can reduce the chance of the most common type of breast cancer returning in young women, a finding Victorian oncologists are claiming as an international game-changer for recurrent cancer prevention.
An international study of 4690 women in 27 countries, including Victoria, found that women who received the drug exemestane as part of their treatment dramatically reduced their future cancer risk.
In hormone-responsive breast cancer — which account for 8 out of 10 breast cancer cases in women under 50 — the hormone oestrogen can stimulate the growth of new cancer cells.
Exemestane works by decreasing the amount of oestrogen produced by the body.
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre oncologist and senior author, Associate Professor Prue Francis said 92.8 per cent of women treated with exemestane and oestrogen suppression treatment remained cancer-free after five years.
This was compared to 88.8 per cent of women treated with both tamoxifen — another hormone therapy which blocks the effects of oestrogen on cancer cells — and oestrogen suppression, a one third reduction in relative risk.
Associate Prof Francis said the findings gave oncologists a new treatment to reduce the risk of recurrent cancer.
“All women in the trials had their ovarian function suppressed giving us, for the first time, evidence of the benefits of exemestane over tamoxifen in pre-menopausal women,” she said.
The combined findings of the Tamoxifen and Exemestane Trial (TEXT) and Suppression of Ovarian Function Trial (SOFT) were presented today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, and concurrently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.