Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Ways to Treat Breast Cancer

A new generation of drugs and treatment options gives patients new hope in the fight against breast cancer.

Hormone-Positive Cancers continued...

"In premenopausal women ovaries are the prime producers of estrogen, and they are not affected by aromatase inhibitors," says Smith.

In a number of clinical breast cancer trials, newer aromatase inhibitors (such as Femara, Aromasin, and Arimidex) have been compared with tamoxifen and found to be more effective, show greater survival rates, and in many cases have more tolerable side effects overall.

A 2006 analysis of 23 studies showed women with advanced breast cancer lived longer if they took aromatase inhibitors instead of tamoxifen. Researchers found women with advanced breast cancer who had an expected survival rate of 2.5 years lived an additional four months when treated with newer aromatase inhibitors. The analysis was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology now recommends the use of aromatase inhibitors for the treatment of hormone-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Targeting the Future

If doctors are right, the future of breast cancer treatment may involve drugs that don't target tumor cells at all, but instead work to disrupt the support system that helps them grow.

In a process known as angiogenesis (creation of new blood vessels), cancer cells utilize growth factors made naturally in the body to develop a blood supply that enables them to thrive. New drugs known as "antiangiogenisis" treatments interfere with that process and, says Smith, "Cut off tumor growth in its embryonic stage."

So far, at least one drug -- Avastin -- is accomplishing this in some lung and colon cancers. Hudis says clinical trials have also yielded impressive results in breast cancer, although the drug is not yet approved for breast cancer treatment.

"What's really exciting about this method is that it is generic enough in its approach to work for all types of cancer," says Hudis.

Extreme Cures

In addition to target-specific drugs, new ways to use standard breast cancer treatments have resulted in still more treatment advances. Two of the newest hit extremes that cover both ends of the healing spectrum.

In line with the minimalist approach to breast conservation -- treatment that includes lumpectomy over mastectomy -- comes a minimal form of radiation therapy. One such technique is known as MammoSite.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow