Ovarian Drugs to Treat Breast Cancer?
Drugs That Suppress Ovaries May Help Treat Hormone-Sensitive Breast Cancer
May 17, 2007 -- Drugs that affect the ovaries may help treat some women with
hormone-sensitive breast cancer, researchers report in The Lancet.
They included Jack Cuzick, PhD, who works in London at Cancer Research
Cuzick and colleagues focused on a class of drugs called LHRH agonists,
which can reduce the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries. Examples of
LHRH agonists include Zoladex and Lupron.
About two-thirds of women with breast cancer have estrogen-sensitive breast
tumors, meaning that those tumors are fueled by estrogen. Curbing estrogen
helps fight those cancers.
Breast cancer drugs that target estrogen include tamoxifen and aromatase
inhibitors. Those drugs work differently from LHRH agonists.
Cuzick's team pooled data from 16 studies of about 11,900 premenopausal
women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer.
Relatively few women only took LHRH agonists. Others just got chemotherapy
and/or tamoxifen. Still others got LHRH agonists in addition to chemotherapy
Cuzick's team found that LHRH agonists, taken alone, were comparable to
chemotherapy in reducing the odds of breast cancer recurrence or death from
breast cancer recurrence.
Adding LHRH agonists to chemotherapy and/or tamoxifen lowered recurrence by
nearly 13% and lowered death after recurrence by about 15%.
Those effects were strongest in women less than 40 years old.
However, it's too soon to recommend the addition of LHRH agonists for all
premenopausal women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, according to an
editorial published in The Lancet.
"In women with higher-risk disease, chemotherapy followed by tamoxifen
should still be the standard approach, with the addition of an LHRH analogue
[agonist] a reasonable consideration for those who remain premenopausal,"
write the editorialists.
They included Nicholas Wilcken, MBBS, PhD, FRACP, who works in Sydney,
Australia, in the medical oncology department of Westmead and Nepean Hospitals
and the University of Sydney.
The Lancet notes that Cuzick is a statistical consultant for the drug
company AstraZeneca, which makes Zoladex, but that work is unrelated to the
drugs in this study.