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     HK Add: 6/F, Fo Tan Industrial Centre, 26-28 Au Pui Wan St ,Fo Tan, Shatin, Hongkong

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The Estrogen Effect: New Ways To Treat Hormone-Positive Breast Cancer

Edit: Shenzhen OK Biotech Technology Co., Ltd. (SZOB)    Date: Jul 09, 2015

Patients whose breast cancers are estrogen-positive have a wide variety of treatments available.

In the late 1970s, treatment of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer was revolutionized by the introduction of the drug tamoxifen. Since then, a multitude of successful new hormone-based (endocrine) drugs have followed. But despite this formidable arsenal, not all patients respond to these drugs, and many who do respond eventually relapse. 

Hormone signal-blocking drugs work on ER-positive cancers by lowering estrogen levels or by blocking or downregulating the receptor. Tamoxifen and Fareston (toremifene) bind to the ER and block its association with estrogen, thereby preventing tumor growth. Faslodex (fulvestrant) also binds to the ER but triggers its destruction, lowering estrogen receptor activity in the cell. AIs, on the other hand, prevent estrogen from being produced in the first place. These drugs, which include anastrozole, exemestane and letrozole, target an enzyme called aromatase, which converts androgens into estrogen, the main source of estrogen in postmenopausal women. AIs have recently become the drug of choice in postmenopausal patients. Faslodex and AIs are approved for use in postmenopausal women only.

“Patients with early-stage breast cancer are always treated with curative intent,” says Gabriel Hortobagyi, MD, chairman of the breast medical oncology department at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Nonetheless, disease recurs in about 25 percent of these patients. 

The cancer can live in my body as long as it wants, provided it’s a quiet tenant. And when it gets out of hand, we slap it down.

With metastatic disease, “We often see a pattern where endocrine therapy works for a while and then the tumor starts to progress,” says Matthew Ellis, MD, PhD, chief of the breast oncology section at Washington University in St. Louis. Luckily, patients with responsive tumors can be switched to other hormone therapies if resistance to one develops.


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