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Generic Meds Boost Survival in Some Early Breast Cancers

Researchers found benefit from aromatase inhibitors and bisphosphonates

FRIDAY, July 24, 2015 (HealthDay News) — There’s more evidence that two classes of generic drugs (aromatase inhibitors and bisphosphonates) reduce the risk of death in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer, according to two studies published online July 23 in The Lancet.

The first study included data from 31,920 postmenopausal women with estrogen receptor-positive early breast cancer. After five years of treatment, those who took an aromatase inhibitor had a slightly better survival rate than those who took standard hormonal therapy (tamoxifen). After another five years of treatment, taking an aromatase inhibitor further reduced the risk of cancer recurrence by 30 percent and the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 15 percent, compared to taking tamoxifen. Compared to no endocrine treatment, taking aromatase inhibitors would reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by about 40 percent over the decade after starting treatment, the researchers estimated.

The second study included data from 18,766 cases of early breast cancer. The researchers found that two to five years of treatment with bisphosphonates reduced the risk of cancer recurrence and significantly extended survival in postmenopausal women. The risk of death from breast cancer after 10 years was 14.7 percent in women who took bisphosphonates and 18 percent in women who did not take the drugs. However, bisphosphonates appeared to have little effect in premenopausal patients.

The two new studies “provide really good evidence that both of these inexpensive generic drugs can help to reduce breast cancer mortality in postmenopausal women,” Richard Gray, the University of Oxford’s lead statistician for both studies, said in a journal news release.

Several authors from both studies disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Abstract – Aromatase Inhibitors
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Abstract – Bisphosphonates.
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