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Mayo Collaboration Finds Source of Breast Drug Side Effect

Posted Sep 27 2010 6:24pm

Mayo Clinic researchers and their international colleagues have discovered genetic variants that lead to severe arthritis for a subset of women when taking aromatase inhibitors to treat their breast cancer. This serious side effect is so painful that many women halt their lifesaving medication. The findings appear today in the online issue of Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Many women stop taking aromatase inhibitors due to the accompanying joint pain,” says James Ingle, M.D. , Mayo Clinic oncologist and senior author of the study. “We used the latest genetic technology in a very large group of women and discovered totally new clues to the cause of the main reason women stop this potentially lifesaving drug. Our findings open the door to finding ways to identify women who will develop these side effects and treat those who do, thus allowing more women to take this therapy and decrease their chances of breast cancer recurrence.” Aromatase inhibitors are most often used as adjuvant therapy for postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer.

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