New Drug Helps Fight Breast Cancer - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

03/12/04

New Drug Helps Fight Breast Cancer

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Doctors have found away to cut your risk for getting cancer again, with a combination of drugs. Thanks to 31 brave women in East Texas, the drug will now be available to anyone who needs it.

Sixty-nine-year-old Angie Johnson found out she had breast cancer six years ago. She had a lumpectomy and went through weeks of radiation. But, like most post menopausal women, she learned she had a high probability of getting cancer again.

So, she was told she'd need to take the drug Tamoxifen for five years. But there was one problem.

"I didn't like Tamoxifen. I had hot flashes and a lot of aches and pains," says Angie.

Tamoxifen made her feel so badly she asked to be taken off it. But that's when her doctor, Sasha Vukelja, told her Tamoxifen wasn't her only option.

Angie was invited to join 30 other women from Tyler Cancer Center in a study of a new drug called Exemstane. Angie says she noticed a big improvement with the switch.

"My hot flashes aren't as bad, I feel stronger, [and] I don't have the aches and pains," she says.

The study results proved positive as well. They were just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"After five years, we found people who switched had less recurrence, and less disease. They had less chance of getting another breast cancer, and they also live longer without disease," says Dr. Vukelja.

According to the study, women who took Tamoxifen and Exemstane live almost five percent longer, and remain cancer free – something Tamoxifen alone can't guarantee.

"Nobody wants cancer, and if this can keep it from recurring, it’s worth taking the medication," says Angle.

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