New hope for breast cancer sufferers

For those suffering from breast cancer, any sign of relief or medical breakthrough is like music to their ears. And thanks to progressive research, another very promising treatment has been found to slow breast cancer.

New research has found that the hormone progesterone slowed the growth of breast cancers when it was combined with tamoxifen, the standard drug treatment.

Devastatingly, nearly 1.7 million women around the world are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and scientists believe about half could benefit from progesterone therapy if the findings are confirmed in clinical trials.

“The results are pretty clear and potentially have direct benefits for many women with breast cancer,” said Jason Carroll, who co-led the study at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute.

Women who have “double positive” breast cancer (high levels of both oestrogen and progesterone receptors) have the best chance of survival, but it was not known why until recently.

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The Cambridge team worked with researchers at the University of Adelaide, to perform a series of experiments on human breast cancer cells and on mice implanted with human breast tumours. They found that adding progesterone to double positive cancers, along with tamoxifen, slowed their growth more than the drug alone.

When progesterone sticks to the progesterone receptor in cancer cells, it changes how the oestrogen receptor works, and effectively stops on tumour growth in two ways.

“Crucially, it provides a strong case for a clinical trial to investigate the potential benefit of adding progesterone to drugs that target the oestrogen receptor, which could improve treatment for the majority of hormone-driven breast cancers”. Carroll said in the article, published in science journal, Nature.

Women whose tumours have become resistant to drugs could benefit from the progesterone treatment if made publicly available.

 

Tell us, do you know someone who is suffering from breast cancer who could benefit from this treatment?