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Experts Issue New Guidelines on Breast Cancer Drugs
Date:7/13/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- A leading group of cancer experts has issued new guidelines on the best way to use two classes of hormone therapies for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, the most common form of breast tumor.

After a systematic review of medical research on the subject, experts reported that adding an aromatase inhibitor -- a drug that reduces the amount of estrogen produced in the body -- has clearly been shown to reduce the number of tumor recurrences in postmenopausal women compared with the standard drug tamoxifen, which works by blocking the action of estrogen on cancer tumors that are estrogen-receptor positive.

The committee preparing the guidelines recommended, therefore, that all postmenopausal women with this type of breast cancer use aromatase inhibitors either before or after tamoxifen.

They also concluded that women could use them as long as five years after tamoxifen therapy to lower their risk that the cancer will reoccur.

The paper, issued by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) and published July 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology essentially brings guidelines in alignment with today's practice.

"This is actually reinforcing clinical practice," said Dr. Crystal Denlinger, assistant professor of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "In general, for postmenopausal women, we are offering them aromatase inhibitors based on the single studies that have been referenced [in these guidelines] and what has already been reported in national meetings."

Those studies and presentations, added Denlinger, "have uniformly demonstrated the superiority of aromatase inhibitors over tamoxifen or a switching strategy or an extended strategy."

The new guidelines replace previous guidelines issued in 2002, and subsequent updates in 2003 and 2004.

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