Less estrogen can mean smaller breast tumours

Drugs that lower the amount of estrogen in a post-menopausal woman’s body can cause breast cancer tumours to shrink and reduce the mastectomy rate, researchers have found.

Patients with stage 2 or 3 breast cancer and large tumours usually undergo chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumours and reduce the risk that the breast will need to be removed completely.

Now researchers from Washington University in St Louis have found that a class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors can slow the growth of tumours in post-menopausal women with estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. The aromatase inhibitors also do not have the toxic side effects associated with chemotherapy.

The method only works in post-menopausal women, said the study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

After trying the new treatment, more than half the women who partook in the trial found that their tumours had shrunk so much, their breast was able to be saved.

Read more at Washington University in St Louis