Breast Cancer Drug — Tamoxifen — Can Reduce the Side effects of Prostate Cancer Treatments

September 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Prostate Cancer News

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Side effects of hormonal therapy for prostate cancer that have been identified include increase in breast pain or growth in breast tissues in men.

These are possibly why some men do not complete their treatments or are discouraged from going for hormonal treatments. However, the good news now is that the breast cancer treatment drug known as Tamoxifen can help men ease these side effects.

This discovery was revealed in a recent study conducted by Scientists from the University Clinic Erlangen in Germany. This result of this finding has been published in the Journal BMC Medicine. The following are highlights of the details:

Men undergoing prostate cancer treatment commonly suffer side effects such as the growth of breast tissue or breast pain, but the breast-cancer drug tamoxifen may reduce the risk of these effects, a new review says.

Researchers looked at four studies of men with prostate cancer, and found that men whose treatments were supplemented with tamoxifen were less likely to have breast enlargement and breast pain than those not taking the drug.

For instance, six months after starting treatment, men who took tamoxifen were 10 percent less likely to have breast enlargement and 6 percent less likely to have breast pain compared with patients not receiving the drug, which counteracts the effects of estrogen on breast tissue.

Tamoxifen prevented these side effects about 20 percent better than other treatments, such as the drug anastrozole, which counteracts estrogen’s effects in a different way, the researchers found.

The growth of breast tissue and breast pain has been cited as reasons why men stop their prostate cancer treatments, according to the study.

“If men know that there is a successful option for reducing the breast symptoms associated with treatment for prostate cancer, they may be more likely to see their doctor when symptoms of cancer first appear, and consequently reduce the number of unnecessary deaths,” said lead study author Dr. Frank Kunath, of the University Clinic Erlangen in Germany.

Because testosterone can encourage prostate cancer growth, some treatments are aimed at suppressing testosterone production. As the body tries to produce even more testosterone to counter the drop, some of this testosterone is converted to estrogen, which causes breasttissue to develop and can lead to pain.

“When asking a patient to comply with a regime, you have to think about what the side effects are, and if they will drive a person to stop medication,” said Dr. Freya Schnabel, professor and breast surgeon at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

However, Schnabel said, the new review did not include data on how many men consider stopping or actually stop treatment because of these side effects. She added that truly calculating the negative impact of breast growth or breast pain was difficult.

It is logical that tamoxifen could reduce the effects of the estrogen produced during prostate cancer treatment, Schnabel said, though she cautioned that the researchers reviewed only four studies, and further research is needed.

“They’re clearly not advocating that every man taking these medications should go on tamoxifen,” she said, but the research suggests that taking the drug “may ameliorate their symptoms.”

The study was published Aug. 27 in the journal BMC Medicine. Source.

The above study is quite revealing and can help men deal with the breast related side effects of prostate cancer treatment. However, there is a call to be cautious and never to generalize on this treatment.

More studies needs to be carried out so as to further prove the efficacy of this treatment.

Finally, Tamoxifen has been effective in treating breast cancer; this new discovery on its impact with prostate cancer men is a welcome development for prostate cancer treatment.

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