Study Finds Safer Drug to Prevent Return of Breast Cancer

“Women diagnosed with a common type of breast cancer now have a more effective, safer drug for follow-up care intended to prevent the disease from returning or spreading, according to a national study that involved Pittsburgh doctors and patients.

“The study, released Saturday, found that anastrozole was more effective than tamoxifen, the medication of choice for the past 10 or 15 years, to prevent additional episodes of cancer in post-menopausal women already treated for the ductal cancer known as DCIS. The study was described as the first to compare the medications’ use in patients with DCIS.

“ ‘The bottom line is that this changes the way we treat’ DCIS, said Adam Brufsky, a study co-author and co-director of UPMC’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center.

“The study ‘has tremendous merit,’ said Thomas Julian, division director of breast surgical oncology for the Allegheny Health Network, noting as many as 50,000 women are diagnosed with DCIS each year. The drug especially benefited women younger than 60, he said.”