Promising Drugs for Cervical Cancer
Evista, Faslodex Effective in Animal Studies, Researchers Say
Nov. 9, 2009 -- Two medications on the market to treat breast cancer and osteoporosis
worked well to eliminate cervical cancer in animal
studies, according to new research.
The two drugs also kept precancerous growths from becoming cancerous, says
researcher Sang-Hyuk Chung, PhD, a research associate at the McArdle Laboratory
for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and
Public Health in Madison.
"If it's translatable to humans, then it may open up another treatment
possibility," Chung tells WebMD. His study is published in PNAS Early
But experts who reviewed the research for WebMD say it must be viewed as
preliminary. Chung agrees, saying, "It will take years to get results from
potential clinical trials."
An estimated 11,270 new cases of invasive cervical cancer are expected in
the U.S. this year, according to the American Cancer Society; about 4,070 women
will die from the disease. Cervical cancer treatment options include surgery,
chemotherapy, and radiation, depending on the stage at which it is
Drug Treatment for Cervical Cancer: Study Details
Chung and Paul F. Lambert, PhD, also at the University of Wisconsin, tested
the drugs on mice genetically engineered to carry human papillomavirus (HPV) 16, a strain that is
strongly associated with cervical cancer.
In the U.S., genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection,
according to the CDC. New HPV vaccines can prevent some infections but can't
eliminate infections already present or precancerous growths. There are many
different HPV strains.
Although many women become infected with HPV, few develop cervical cancer,
as the virus often clears on its own. Since not all HPV-infected women get
cervical cancer, Chung and others have long suspected another factor is in
play. They decided to focus on estrogen, a hormone to which
the cervix and other female organs are responsive.
It's known that long-term use of birth control pills, as well as
multiple pregnancies, increase the risk of cervical cancer in HPV-infected
women, Chung writes.
In their mouse model, estrogen is required for cervical or vaginal cancer to
develop, according to Chung.
So Chung and Lambert gave the mice either Faslodex, used to treat certain
breast cancers, or Evista, used to treat
osteoporosis and to reduce the risk of breast cancer in some women. One group
of animals with cervical cancer was untreated.
The drugs prevent estrogen from working in the cervical cells, according to
After a month, the researchers looked at the results. Over 90% of those
treated with either Faslodex or Evista did not have cancer, Chung says. The
drugs also were effective in eliminating precancerous growths.
"At this point I cannot say whether one [drug] is better than the other," he
Chung says the drugs may one day provide another cervical cancer treatment