Oral Drug Could Help Prevent Breast Cancer

May work against tumors that aren't estrogen-dependent

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TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The oral drug ZD1839 shows promise for breast cancer prevention, says a study in the Dec. 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study found the drug, also known as gefitinib, prevented the development of estrogen receptor(ER)-negative breast cancer in a mouse model.

ER-negative breast cancers aren't dependent on estrogen to grow and don't respond to drugs such as tamoxifen and raloxifene. ZD1839 blocks the cellular signaling pathway that contributes to tumor survival and growth.

Previous studies found ZD1839 inhibits the growth of various types of cancer cells, including breast cancer cells.

In this new study, researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston treated ER-negative normal, precancerous and cancerous breast cells with ZD1839. They also tested the effect of the drug on the development of ER-negative breast tumors in transgenic mice.

They found the drug suppressed the growth of ER-negative normal, precancerous and cancerous breast cells. The drug also delayed formation of ER-negative tumors in the mice to more than 310 days. The mice normally develop breast tumors in about 230 days.

More information

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

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Dec. 16, 2003

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