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The spread of breast cancer can be reduced by nearly a fifth with the help of the aromatase inhibitor exemestane, according to new trial findings.
Marketed as Aromasin, it stops production of the female hormone oestrogen, which fuels most of 45,600 new cases of breast cancer every year in the UK.
The tamoxifen and exemestane adjuvant multicentre trial compared initial treatment with tamoxifen or exemestane in a group of almost 10,000 women with breast cancer.
It found that women given the treatment were 19% less likely to suffer metastatic cancer, had a 17% lower incidence of new tumours than women treated with tamoxifen, and the risk of the cancer spreading was 19% lower.
A previous study showed that switching to exemestane reduced the risk of dying by 17% compared with remaining on tamoxifen.
The new findings were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas.
The drug is currently not licensed for initial therapy in the UK. Currently, patients may be switched to exemestane after initial postsurgical treatment with standard tamoxifen.
Copyright Press Association 2008