“A Major Step Forward” New Breast Cancer Prevention Drug To Be Offered To Women.

Image shows a clipboard and stethoscope with the words Breast Cancer.

Sometimes, an older medication can be repurposed to significant effect. Groups working with breast cancer prevention are abuzz with a new development using an “old” drug. Doctors in the UK have begun prescribing Anastrozole as a preventative measure for post-menopausal women with a high risk of developing breast cancer. Although approved in the United States for treating cancer, this drug is currently not FDA-approved as a preventative measure in the US.

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About Anastrozole, The Breast Cancer Drug

Anastrozole is a hormone replacement therapy initially patented in 1987. FDA approval for medical use in the US was granted in 1995, with approval for treating breast cancer in 2000. Anastrozole has been in use as a cancer treatment drug for hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer. It has been useful in slowing cancer growth in conjunction with other medications. This drug works by blocking estrogen production. This medication is ONLY approved in the US for post-menopausal women.

Mammograms are an integral part of breast cancer prevention. Image shows a woman getting a screening.
Image from Flickr.

Women prescribed Anastrozole typically take the medication for five years. It is only available with a prescription and should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor. There are side effects that are very similar to usual post-menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.

How Does Anastrozole Prevent Breast Cancer?

The science behind Anastrozole’s effectiveness in slowing cancer growth is that it prohibits estrogen production. In many cancers, estrogen speeds up the growth of tumors. By limiting estrogen production, tumor growth slows exponentially.

Image shows two technicians standing with a mammogram machine.
Image from Flickr.

As we continue to learn more about cancers, researchers are developing new ways to treat and prevent this debilitating and often life-threatening disease. Genetic research has opened many doors into cancer research. This research has allowed doctors to identify genetic sequences that make a person more susceptible to developing cancers.

The Future Of Breast Cancer Prevention and Medicine

With early identification of these genetic markers, preventative therapies can reduce the possibility of cancer development. Anastrozole may become a vital part of preventive treatment once it receives approval for that specific use in the US. As we continue to increase breast cancer awareness, it is a good idea to watch the progression of this potential breast cancer prevention treatment through the lengthy approval process in the US.

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