Breast cancer

19 August 2009

Oestrogen may treat breast cancer

Low doses of oestrogen could help treat some forms of breast cancer, according to a clinical study.

Low doses of oestrogen could help treat some forms of breast cancer, according to a clinical study.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, could lead to a partial reversal in how metastatic breast cancer is currently treated using medicines to lower oestrogen levels.

"When oestrogen-lowering drugs no longer control metastatic breast cancer, the opposite strategy might work," said a statement from the Washington University School of Medicine, which carried out the tests.

Matthew Ellis, an oncologist who was the lead author of the study, said around a third of the women who did not respond to standard treatment reacted well to the new regimen.

"Raising oestrogen levels benefited 30% of women whose metastatic breast cancer no longer responded to standard anti-oestrogen treatment," he said.

What the study found
Side effects from raising oestrogen levels could include headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, fluid retention, nausea and vomiting, but Ellis said side effects were limited in comparison to other treatments.

"We found that oestrogen treatment stopped disease progression in many patients and was much better tolerated than chemotherapy would have been."

"Overall, we demonstrated clearly that the low dose was better tolerated than the high dose and was just as effective for controlling metastatic disease." – (Sapa, August 2009)


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Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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