Monday, December 18, 2006

Young breast cancer patients test super-hormone treatment

Young women are getting a shot of a male hormone testosterone often used to treat prostate cancer as part of a super-hormone treatment that new research suggests may improve their survival odds for breast cancer. This chemical equivalent of ovary removal has one big advantage over surgery: it's not permanent, so it may preserve a woman's ability to have children. In premenopausal women, the drugs suppress the pituitary gland, which produces hormones that control the ovaries and cause a woman to have a period every month. Side effects of this induced early menopause are similar to those of natural menopause _ hot flashes, night sweats, etc., according to new research presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which ended Sunday. The drugs are most often used in two situations:
  • As an alternative to chemotherapy for women who have had surgery for small, hormone-fueled tumors and are considered at relatively low risk for recurrence.
  • As a way to keep the ovaries suppressed in women whose periods return after temporarily stopping during chemotherapy.

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