Breast Cancer Battle Boosted

A wonder drug which has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of Ulster breast cancer patients is now being used as standard treatment for the condition, it has emerged.

Research has shown that Exemestane or Aromasin is so effective in fighting the disease that it can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by an incredible 17% compared to standard therapy.

The data also showed a 27% reduction in the risk of breast cancer recurrence, 17% reduction in metastasis and a 44% reduction in the development of cancer in the opposite breast.

The results of the drug trials are only now being published but doctors in Northern Ireland have been prescribing the drug to post menopausal breast cancer patients for over three years.

Originally, Exemestane was given to eligible breast cancer patients at the City if they agreed to participate in a major clinical trial but the results, published in medical journal Lancet, were so good that all post menopausal women being treated for breast cancer now receive the drug.

Dr Seamus McAleer, consultant oncologist at the City, said: “Guidelines recommend that we now switch from Tamoxifen to Exemestane after two to three years for post menopausal women receiving treatment for breast cancer. This has happened on the strength of women who were involved in the clinical trials and is yet another significant step in the fight against breast cancer. It is more expensive but the results show that this is another drug which is a step forward for women with breast cancer.

“We have been aware of the results of these trials for some time now which is why we have been using the drug for a while now and at any one time there are about 300 women in Northern Ireland using Exemestane.”

Aromasin is one of a family of medicines called aromatase inhibitors. It is aimed at women with breast cancer who have been through the menopause.

The drug works by preventing production of the female hormone oestrogen in the fatty tissue, livers and breasts of women whose ovaries no longer function. Oestrogen fuels breast cancer in about two thirds of postmenopausal cases.