Women with earlier-stage breast cancer may be able to spend less time on hormonal therapy without dimming their prognosis, a new study suggests.
In a trial of nearly 3,500 patients, researchers found that seven years of hormonal therapy was as effective as 10 years. By the study’s end, more than three-quarters of women in both groups were alive and recurrence-free.
The results are “important,” according to experts attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, where the study was released Thursday.
Hormonal therapy involves drugs that block estrogen from fueling the growth of breast cancer cells. They include tamoxifen and a group of medications called aromatase inhibitors, such as anastrozole (Arimidex).
The problem is, the drugs can have difficult side effects like bone fractures hot flashes, sexual dysfunction and muscle and joint pain.
Some women do well on the medications, while others “feel terrible and want to come off them,” said Dr. Susan Domchek, of the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center.
So, treatment decisions are always individual, she said, based on various factors, including a women’s personal likelihood of having a breast cancer recurrence.
The study was funded by the drug company AstraZeneca, which makes several hormonal therapies for breast cancer.
Three independent studies (not sponsored by drug companies) have shown that the addition of a broccoli or cruciferous vegetable supplement improves the effectiveness of this hormonal therapy 50-fold. These studies received little publicity and I have yet to have any oncologist recommend broccoli supplements to my patients with a history of breast cancer.
The original recommendation for tamoxifen was for five years after diagnosis of estrogen dominant breast cancer. That was increased to ten years after some recurrent cases occurred after stopping the medication.
It would be interesting to see a study that compared using the meds for five years with a broccoli extract verses seven years without the vegetable supplement. All previous studies with cruciferous vegetable supplements were based on the five-year criteria.
The Bottom Line:
If you have a history of estrogen dominant breast cancer and are on hormonal therapy, please add a broccoli or cruciferous vegetable extract. If you have a family history of breast cancer I recommend these supplements as a preventative as well.
Source: December 7, 2017 National Institutes of Health