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Published on 25 February 2009

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Prostate drug combats breast cancer

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A drug designed to stop production of the male sex hormone testosterone is effective in treating women with early breast cancer, according to a study.

Zoladex is normally given to men with prostate cancer as it reduces the production of testosterone, which is known to fuel the disease.

But a recent study by the University College London found that the drug, also known as goserelin, can reduce the long-term risk of disease recurrence and death in pre-menopausal women.

The drug, which interferes with a mechanism in the brain that regulates sex hormones, works in a similar way in women but instead cuts production of oestrogen – found to encourage the growth of most breast cancers.

A two-year study found that among women who took Zoladex alone, there were 13.9 fewer adverse outcomes per 100 patients 15 years after starting treatment compared with those taking neither drug, while the number of deaths was lower by 8.5 per 100 women.

Among women who took both drugs, the benefit of adding Zoladex was small and not statistically significant.

Dr Allan Hackshaw wrote in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute: “In summary, long-term follow-up of our large trial showed that goserelin had a demonstrable effect on survival and recurrence 15 years after starting treatment and is as effective as tamoxifen when each are given for two years.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

University College London



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