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Lower Cancer Recurrence for Young Women on Fenretinide

Effect of vitamin A-related drug on second breast cancers significant in those under 40

THURSDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Younger women who take the vitamin A-related drug fenretinide have a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence, according to a study published online May 4 in the Annals of Oncology.

Umberto Veronesi, M.D., of the European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,739 women aged 30 to 70 -- 872 of whom were given fenretinide and 867 of whom were under observation -- after a median follow-up of 14.6 years. The sample size represented 60 percent of the original cohort of 2,867 women.

There were 168 incidences of second breast cancers in those given fenretinide and 190 in those under observation. Among premenopausal women, there were 83 second cancers in the fenretinide group and 126 in the control group, while among postmenopausal women there were 85 events in the fenretinide group and 64 among the controls. Use of fenretinide brought a 50 percent reduction in risk among women aged 40 years and younger, though the reduction disappeared after age 55.

"The 15-year analysis of the Milan subgroup of the phase III trial of fenretinide shows a 17 percent, borderline significant reduction of second breast cancer associated with the retinoid," the authors write. "As side effects are limited, fenretinide should be investigated further for prevention of breast cancer in young women at high risk."

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