ScienceDaily (Aug. 1, 2012) — Postmenopausal women with the most common type of metastatic breast cancer now have a new treatment option that lengthens their lives, according a study led by UC Irvine oncologist Dr. Rita Mehta and conducted by the Southwest Oncology Group. The findings appear in the Aug. 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
A combination of the two anti-estrogen drugs anastrozole and fulvestrant extended the median survival time of women with Stage 4 hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer by more than six months compared to those who underwent standard treatment with anastrozole alone.
Mehta said the results of the Phase 3 trial are particularly exciting because "these patients have not had a new treatment that gave them an overall survival benefit in more than a decade."
Both drugs are currently used to treat breast cancer, though not in combination. Anastrozole (also known as Arimidex) reduces the production of tumor-promoting estrogen, while fulvestrant (Faslodex) interferes with the receptors that allow estrogen to signal cells to grow and reproduce and also accelerates the degradation of these receptors.