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Article Features
  Survey Finds Perceived Risk of Recurrence Low in African-American Breast Cancer Survivors
A Black and White Look at Breast Cancer Mortality .. 
Active Lifestyle Reduces Risk of Invasive Breast Cancer
Early Switch to an Aromatase Inhibitor Increases Survival
Changes in Breast Density May Impact Breast Cancer Risk
Heating Breast Cancer Cells to Death
Chemotherapy Drug Packs a One-Two Punch .. 
Gene Elevating Breast Cancer Risk Also Causes Prostate Cancer
Breast Cancer Survivors May Experience Long-Term Heart Disease from Radiotherapy
Gene Profiling Predicts Resistance to Breast Cancer Drug Herceptin .. 
Improved Imaging for Identifying Breast Cancer in Overweight Women
Positive Results More Likely from Industry-Funded Breast Cancer Trials
Depression in Moms with Breast Cancer May Exacerbate Related Anxieties in Their Children
Study Aims to Find Which Breast Cancer Patients Need Chemotherapy
Probe Detects Spread of Breast Cancer
Protein Identified That Regulates Effectiveness of Taxol Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer
Bridge Protein Spurs Deadliest Stages of Breast Cancer
Racial Disparities Seen in Male Breast Cancer Survival
Breast Cancer Prevention Drugs Show Additional Health Benefits
Discovery May Lead to “Smart” Therapies for Breast and Ovarian Cancers
Study Questions Cancer Stem Cell Hypothesis in Breast Cancer
Strenuous Physical Activity Associated with Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Tamoxifen Yields Long-Term Reduction in Breast Cancer Risk
Mechanisms Involved with Tumor Relapse Identified

Breast Cancer Survival Rates Improved by Novel Drug Sequence

Changing the way women are treated for breast cancer could improve their overall chance of survival, according to research published in the Lancet. The new paper shows that switching to a drug called exemestane, two to three years after commencing standard therapy with the drug tamoxifen, can cut the risk of death for certain women by a further 17% compared with using tamoxifen alone.

Postmenopausal women with early-stage hormone-sensitive primary breast cancer are usually treated with tamoxifen for five years, once they are free of disease, to reduce the risk of their cancer recurring. This therapy was once viewed as the 'gold-standard' treatment and it has been shown to cut the risk of death by 34%.

Over recent years, increasing numbers of these women have been receiving treatment with tamoxifen followed by Aromatase Inhibitors such as exemestane.

The Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES), which involved women from 37 different countries, has been examining the benefits of taking tamoxifen for two to three years and then switching to exemestane for the remainder of the five-year period. This new research is the first to show that early benefits of the tamoxifen and exemestane treatment sequence are maintained after treatment has stopped. The study, which was led by researchers from Imperial College London and The Institute of Cancer Research, was funded by Cancer Research UK and Pfizer.

The majority of breast cancer cases are hormone-sensitive, meaning that the cancer cells respond to estrogen and die when they are deprived of the hormone. Tamoxifen works by preventing estrogen from acting on cancer cells, whereas exemestane is an Aromatase Inhibitor, which works by stopping the body's production of estrogen.

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