“Undergoing acupuncture significantly reduced joint pain related to treatment with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) in postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer compared with both sham acupuncture and no treatment at all, according to data from the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) S1200 trial presented at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held December 5–9.”
Editor’s note: This study used mice in a lab to explore the question of whether hormone therapy can improve survival and quality of life for postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. The results were promising, but more research needs to be done.
“A new study supports a growing body of research suggesting a safe and effective role for natural steroid hormones in treating postmenopausal breast cancer, with fewer detrimental side effects and improved health profile than with standard anti-hormone therapies. The study will be published in final format today in the open-access journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology.
“Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women in the United States. Approximately 70% of breast cancers are diagnosed in postmenopausal women. Major clinical trials and experimental studies showed that a class of anti-estrogen drugs called aromatase inhibitors (AIs) is effective against postmenopausal breast cancer. Yet despite their effectiveness in reducing tumor recurrence, aromatase inhibitors have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and increase osteoporosis and bone fractures, which may explain their lack of overall survival improvement versus the older treatment, tamoxifen. These effects, together with undesirable side effects such as incontinence and bone and joint pain, cause many women to discontinue using AIs. Alternatives are needed.
“In their study, researchers at the Center of Excellence in Cancer Research at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, set out to explore a radical and counterintuitive hypothesis: Could an optimal choice of hormones lead to improved survival factors and quality of life, enough to outweigh any negative effect on tumor recurrence? Radical—because current standard of practice considers hormone treatment of any type absolutely contraindicated following hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Counterintuitive— because estrogen-blocking aromatase inhibitors, a nearly opposite treatment, are the current adjuvant treatment for women after hormone-sensitive breast cancer.
“Results from this study in a mouse model suggest the answer to their question is ‘yes,’—well-chosen hormones could improve both survival and quality of life.”