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Combination Breast Cancer Therapy: Hormone Therapy + Blood Vessel Inhibition

Posted Jul 02 2010 7:00am
Breast cancer therapy is an evolving process with more and more types of breast cancer therapies being developed.  This has proven necessary due to the different types and sub-types of breast cancer and the differences that exist between the way they each respond to treatment.  New breast cancer therapy procedures have also been developed to attack the different pathways by which breast cancer can develop and spread.  Despite these amazing advances, there are drawbacks to many of these breast cancer therapies.  The biggest drawbacks concern negative side effects and development of the breast cancer's resistance to the therapeutic drugs.  Recently, we've been seeing a growing body of research that explores the potential benefits of combining two or more breast cancer therapies.

One new breast cancer research study has examined the potential benefits of combining a hormone therapy drug ( tamoxifen ) with a drug ( brivanib alaninate ) that prevents blood vessel growth, a critical part of breast tumor growth.  For this study, mice were implanted with human breast cancer cells and tumors were allowed to develop.  The mice were treated either at the implantation of the breast cancer cells or after tumor development with either (1) tamoxifen alone, (2) brivanib alaninate alone, or (3) a combination of tamoxifen + brivanib alaninate, each at a lower dose than when used alone.  The breast cancer researchers showed
  • Brivanib alaninate alone inhibited tumor growth from both breast cancer cells senstive to tamoxifen and resistant to tamoxifen.
  • In early treatment of tamoxifen sensitive breast cancer cells, the combination of low-dose tamoxifen plus low-dose brivanib alaninate was just as effective as either drug used alone in higher concentrations.
  • In established breast cancer tumors, the low dose breast cancer therapy combination successfully suppressed tumor growth, while neither drug alone had any effect.
These are truly interesting study results that suggest new possibilities for breast cancer therapy. While drugs used in breast cancer therapy have proven effective at treating breast cancer and reducing breast cancer recurrence, most of them come with unwanted side effects at the doses used.  Additionally, in some instances breast cancers can become resistance to the breast cancer therapy and therefore return.  Decreasing the dose of the drug used during breast cancer therapy might reduce side effects, but will also reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.  Therefore, ways to reduce the amount of drug used, while maintaining effectiveness of the therapy are needed.  Combining breast cancer therapy drugs that attack the breast cancer from different angles might prove to be one way to achieve effective treatment with fewer side effects.

Although advances in breast cancer therapy remain extremely important, it is also important to take appropriate steps to reduce ever getting breast cancer. Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer to learn more about simple lifestyle choices you can make to reduce breast cancer risk. 
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