New Treatment Improves Quality of Life for Breast Cancer Survivors
March 01, 2011
Source: The Open Press
Breast cancer survivors celebrate the gift of life. But the battle takes a toll and the quality of that life often suffers. Survivors are often plagued by severe hormone deficiency and symptoms that include: sleep problems, pain, bone loss, fatigue, anxiety, depression, incontinence, dryness, sexual problems, and memory loss.
Rebecca Glaser, MD (Dayton, Ohio) and her research partner, Constantine Dimitrakakis M.D., PhD (Athens, Greece), recently published data showing that sustained release testosterone, delivered by pellet implant, was effective therapy for all of these symptoms in both pre and post-menopausal women.
The physicians, both who treat breast cancer patients, posed the question: Is there a safe and effective way to deliver testosterone and improve the quality of life in breast cancer survivors?
Dimitrakakis’ research has shown ‘low levels of testosterone in breast cancer patients’. But also, that testosterone counteracts the growth effect of estrogen on the breast tissue and may protect against breast cancer. However, testosterone can convert or ‘aromatize’ to estradiol, a strong estrogen that may stimulate cancer cell growth.
The approach Dr. Glaser uses in breast cancer survivors is to combine testosterone with anastrozole, a medication that blocks this conversion. Data presented at the ASCO, Breast Cancer Symposium in October 2010 showed that this new treatment approach effectively delivers testosterone without elevating estrogen levels.
“This is really exciting,” says Glaser. “We have taken two drugs, testosterone and anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor, and combined them into a small implant that is placed just under the skin. It is the sustained-release delivery system that makes the combination therapy so effective and safe.”
The treatment involves a simple, one-minute procedure for the patient about every 3-4 months. Since the medications are implanted and delivered together, neither absorption nor patient compliance is an issue.
“We have performed over 800 Testosterone-Anastrozole insertions in both men (with elevated estradiol levels) and women,” says Glaser. “We see consistent relief of symptoms without the side effects of excess estrogen (i.e. anxiety, irritability, fluid retention, breast pain, gynecomastia, weight gain etc.). In fact, some patients who have had difficulty losing weight are finally able to get rid of the belly fat and tone up.”
No significant side effects have occurred in any of the patients who have received the testosterone-anastrozole implants.
“These findings are very encouraging,” says Glaser. “In the future, we hope to show that breast cancer survivors can enjoy optimum health and a high quality of life without concern that their treatment will cause a recurrence of cancer.”
Dr. Glaser and Dr. Dimitrakakis are seeking support to further study the combination implant.
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Last updated: 01-Mar-11