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Worries Lessen Over New Breast Cancer Drug

Study finds lower risk of bone fractures than previously thought

FRIDAY, Sept. 26, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Fears that a promising new breast cancer drug might be sidetracked because its use has been associated with an increased risk of bone fractures seem to be easing.

The drug -- anastrozole -- has shown somewhat better disease-free survival rates than tamoxifen, considered the current gold standard of treatment for breast cancer. It also has proven better at reducing the recurrence of cancer, results from an international study known as the ATAC[1] trial show.

But, women in the study taking anastrozole have had nearly 60 percent more bone fractures after two years, reports Professor Anthony Howell, a medical oncologist at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, England, and chairman of the study's steering committee.

The bright side, Howell says, is that the fracture risk for anastrozole declined to about 30 percent higher than the risk with tamoxifen after four years.

"It is now important to see what happens when patients stop their treatment after five years," he says in a statement.

Howell reported on the progress of the study Sept. 24 at the European Cancer Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Involving more than 9,000 postmenopausal women in 21 countries, the study compares the use of anastrozole with tamoxifen and with a combination of the two drugs.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: European Cancer Conference, news release, Sept. 24, 2003
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