Two inexpensive generic drugs could help some post-menopausal women survive their battle with breast cancer, a new study has found. The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, showed that the two drugs prevented secondary tumors from growing in the bone, according to the NY Daily News. Some researchers worry, however, that pharmaceutical companies will drag their feet in producing the potentially life-saving medications.
Breast cancer, like many cancers, often spreads to other parts of the body; in the case of breast cancer, it often expands to bone, where it can remain undetected. To treat this problem, doctors often used biosphonates – which are commonly used in osteoporosis treatments – to stop the cancer from growing. In this latest study, the biosphonates were given instead as a preventative measure in women after cancer was removed from their breasts. The BBC reports that deaths were cut by 18 percent over the 10 years after they were first diagnosed, but only in post-menopausal women.
The magnitude of the benefit on mortality was bigger than we had anticipated – a risk reduction of 18%.
The other drugs cited in the study, aromatose inhibitors, are able to reduce the chance of dying from the disease in the first decade after diagnosis by about 40 percent, reports the NY Daily News. The drugs work by blocking hormones that are believed to actually stimulate breast cancer growths. Even though the research has many in the medical field hopeful, the biosphonates are not currently an option because they are reportedly out of patent and not financially lucrative enough to entice pharmaceutical companies to produce more. “The access issue is an important one. It would be a great shame if the systems we have to work with prove to be a block,” Coleman told BBC reporters.