A new study shows a drug to prevent breast cancer in high risk patients is not only more effective than current treatments, it also comes with far less serious side effects.
New research in the Lancet shows it could help post-menopausal women by eliminating their estrogen production. The more estrogen you have in your body the more you can develop estrogen-related breast cancer.
Researchers followed nearly 4,000 high risk, post-menopausal women for nine years. They found patients who received the anti-hormone therapy lowered their chances of getting breast cancer by 53 percent.
Doctors say this is an important tamoxifen, another drug that helps prevent breast cancer can lead to endometrial or uterine cancer.
Researchers say anastrozole is more effective and has fewer and less serious side effects.
Professor Jack Cuzick, lead researcher and head of Queen Mary University of London's Centre for Cancer Prevention, said: "This research is an exciting development in breast cancer prevention. We now know anastrozole should be the drug of choice when it comes to reducing the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with a family history or other risk factors for the disease. This class of drugs is more effective than previous drugs such as tamoxifen and crucially, it has fewer side effects.
"Unpleasant side effects such as acute aches and pains have often been associated with oestrogen depriving drugs. However, in this study, the reported side effects were only slightly higher than in the placebo arm. This means most symptoms were not drug related, and the concern about side effects for this type of drug may have been overstated in the past.
Side effects for anastrozole include joint pain and bone loss.
Women are considered to be high risk if they have a strong family history of breast cancer or if they have calcifications in their breasts.