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For women who have received positive breast cancer tests, estrogen-receptor-blocking medications have been shown to improve survival rates to a greater degree than aromatase inhibitors. But what makes one class of drugs more effective than the other?
A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests that aromatase inhibitors may have certain toxic effects. While they are effective at preventing a recurrence of breast cancer, they may harm a woman’s well-being in other ways, which can shorten life expectancy.
To determine this, researchers from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto examined the results of seven previously published studies involving more than 30,000 breast cancer patients. The investigation showed that both classes of medications prevented a recurrence of breast cancer equally well. However, patients on aromatse inhibitors were more likely to experience broken bones and heart disease.
The researchers took this as evidence of toxic effects associated with aromatase inhibitors.
"The cumulative toxicity of aromatase inhibitors when used as up-front treatment may explain the lack of overall survival benefit despite improvements in disease-free survival,” the team wrote in their report.
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