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Diagnosis of breast cancer through a lab test is one of the first steps patients can take toward treating their disease. Some patients may benefit from drugs such as tamoxifen, but over time, the disease may become resistant to this therapy.
Recently, researchers from Ohio State University discovered an alternative approach to treating breast cancer that no longer responds to tamoxifen.
More than two-thirds of breast cancer cases are estrogen-receptor positive, meaning they grow in response to the hormone estrogen. Tamoxifen usually blocks this process, but up to 40 percent of patients become resistant after five years. This may be because alternative pathways in the cancer cells allow the disease to thrive.
However, new experiments demonstrated that shutting down two other cellular pathways, known as hedgehog and PI3K/AKT, can help eliminate the tamoxifen-resistant cancer.
Vismodegib, a drug currently in clinical trials, may be able to achieve this effect.
Until researchers learn more about this agent, patients who think they have or are at risk for breast cancer should consider undergoing a lab test. If they are positive, a healthcare provider can help them go over their treatment options.
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