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New drug for Breast Cancer
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New drug for Breast Cancer

I heard on the Today Show that there is a new drug that has been shown to be very effective in early stage breast cancer even more effective than Tamoxafen.  could you please tell me the name of this drug and when it might be available.  They were saying that this drug has less toxicity than tamoxafen.  Thank you.
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Dear Redbean, The drug you may be referring to is raloxifen hydrochloride (Evista). It is one of the family of medications called SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) of which tamoxifen is also part of.  Raloxifen has been FDA approved for use as prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.  In evaluating raloxifene overall evidence showed that it was reducing the risk of invasive breast cancers in postmenopausal women.  There is currently a large trial being conducted comparing raloxifene with tamoxifen in terms of breast cancer prevention, this trial is commonly referred to as the STAR trial (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene).  Studies continue as to role of raloxifene in adjuvant treatment of early stage cancers.

The most common side effects of raloxifene are hot flashes and leg cramps.  There is an increased risk of development of deep vein thrombosis, however there was not shown to be an increase risk of endometrial cancer that has been noted with tamoxifen use.
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Dec. 13, 2000 (Washington) -- Patients with advanced breast cancer may receive a different drug if the FDA follows the advice of its advisory committee. The panel of expert advisers voted Wednesday to endorse the approval of Letrozole(Femara) as a first-line therapy. The FDA isn't obligated to follow the advice of its expert panel, but the agency usually does so.

Letrozole(Femara), made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, is in a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors. Aromatase is a protein that converts male-type hormones into the common female hormone estrogen.

In 1997, Femara was approved as a treatment to be used if tamoxifen failed. But if the panel's recommendations are followed, Femara could take the lead as the preferred first treatment.



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