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Breast Cancer Therapy: Tamoxifen vs Aromatase Inhibitors

Posted Dec 23 2009 12:00am
A large percent of breast cancers are hormone - positive, particularly estrogen receptor - positive.  For these types of cancer, hormone therapy is generally one of the major breast cancer treatment options.  Probably the two most common types of breast cancer hormone therapy are tamoxifen, which blocks the estrogen receptors, and aromatase inhibitors, which reduce the amount of estrogen produced.

A recently published paper compared the effectiveness of these two hormone therapies.  In their study, breast cancer researchers examined breast cancer outcomes in two groups of breast cancer clinical trials.  Group 1 trials used either tamoxifen alone or aromatase inhibitors alone.  The examination of these trials showed that breast cancer recurrence was 9.6% for aromatase inhibitors, but 12.6% for tamoxifen.  Group 2 trials used aromatase inhibitors after 2-3 years of tamoxifen treatment. Analysis of these trials showed that breast cancer recurrence was 5% with aromatase inhibitors and 8% with tamoxifen.  The breast cancer researchers concluded that aromatase inhibitors produced substantially lower breast cancer recurrence.

This is important information for hormone-positive breast cancer patients to keep in mind when discussing therapy options with their physician.  If aromatase inhibitors are a viable option, then using them as an initial therapy or as a follow-up therapy after tamoxifen might help reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.  Another point to keep in mind with these treatments is that breast cancers can become resistant to hormone therapies over time.  This can mean that it might be necessary to switch therapies in order to best fight against breast cancer recurrence.  Fortunately, research is currently being conducted to determine possible options.  One on-going study has recently reported that 20% of postmenopausal, hormone-positive breast cancer patients saw some clinical benefits to combining treatments in an attempt to overcome resistant metastatic breast cancer.

Knowing your options regarding breast cancer therapy is an important part of successfully fighting breast cancer.  Another important part of fighting against breast cancer is learning what you can do to reduce your risk of ever getting breast cancer.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer ( to learn more.
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