LOS ANGELES – A drug already used to treat breast cancer can reduce the risk of tumors in high- and moderate-risk post-menopausal women by 65 percent over a three-year period, researchers reported Saturday.
Two other drugs are already approved for reducing the risk of breast tumors in healthy women: Generic tamoxifen reduces the risk by 50 percent over a five-year period and raloxifene (Evista) reduces the risk by 38 percent over a similar period.
But both drugs are associated with an increased risk of potentially fatal uterine cancer and blood clots. Fewer than 4 percent of the 2 million women who might benefit from the drugs actually use them.
Exemestane, sold under the brand name Aromasin, provides an even greater reduction in breast cancer risk and so far does not appear to have those potentially lethal side effects, a team headed by Dr. Paul E. Goss of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center reported at a Chicago meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The drug is already on the market for fighting breast cancer, and physicians can prescribe it for any purpose they choose.