Combination Breast-Cancer Treatment Works: Study
Two current breast cancer drugs work more effectively in combination than alone to stop the spread of the illness in older women, according to a study.
The combined treatment of anastrozole (Arimidex) and fulvestrant (Faslodex) was used in a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine. Among women with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, the survival time was extended for six months.
Dr. Rita Mehta, an oncologist at the university’s Breast Health Center, said in a statement that the finding was a breakthrough in treatment. “These patients have not had a new treatment that gave them an overall survival benefit in more than a decade.”
The drugs have been in use, though not in combination. Anastrozole reduces the production of tumor-promoting estrogen, while fulvestrant interferes with the receptors that allow estrogen to signal cancer cells to grow and reproduce. The combination treatment works against hormone receptor positive breast cancer, which accounts for more than half of all breast cancer cases.
“The next step would be to try the combination in even earlier stages of breast cancer,” Mehta said, “to see whether long-term cures could be increased at those stages.”
The findings were published in the “New England Journal of Medicine."