Researchers Launch Breast Cancer Prevention Drug Trial

Five-year study to assess effectiveness of exemestane

THURSDAY, March 31, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers have launched an international study to evaluate the ability of a new estrogen-suppressing drug, exemestane, to prevent breast cancer in women at increased risk for the disease.

The ExCel study will track more than 4,500 postmenopausal women in Canada, the United States and Spain for five years. Researchers say it will include women at increased risk for breast cancer due to risk factors such as age, family history, age at first menstrual period, and age at first live birth.

Exemestane, which belongs to the aromatase inhibitor family of drugs, suppresses estrogen production, a key component in the development of some types of breast cancer.

The drug was approved in 1999 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of advanced breast cancer in women whose tumors have stopped responding to tamoxifen.

"Breast cancer is a major public health issue -- every 30 seconds somewhere in the world a woman is diagnosed with this disease," Dr. Paul Goss, ExCel research study chair, said in a prepared statement.

"Thousands of women have already beat breast cancer, thanks to recent research on aromatase inhibitors. As a result, we think this could be an effective approach to preventing it from developing in the first place," Goss said.

The study is being coordinated by the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer prevention.

SOURCE: Edelman PR, news release, March 30, 2005
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