January 24, 2011

Breast Cancer Drug Fights Lung Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The anti-estrogen breast cancer drug tamoxifen may reduce the risk of death from lung cancer. A new study suggests that there is a hormonal influence on lung cancer and that estrogen levels play a role in lung cancer patients' prognosis.

Elisabetta Rapiti, M.D., of the Geneva Cancer Registry, led a study that compared lung cancer incidence and mortality among breast cancer patients who were and weren't treated with tamoxifen. The study included 6,655 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1980 and 2003 and registered at the Geneva Cancer Registry. Among these women, 46 percent (3,066) received anti-estrogens. All women were followed for occurrence and death from lung cancer until December 2007.

The researchers found that 40 women in the study developed lung cancer, which wasn't a correlation between patients who were and weren't treated with tamoxifen. However, fewer women taking anti-estrogens died from lung cancer than expected. Specifically, there were 87 percent fewer cases of death due to lung cancer in the anti-estrogen group than in the general population.

"Our results support the hypothesis that there is a hormonal influence on lung cancer, which has been suggested by findings such as the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors in a substantial proportion of lung cancers," Dr. Rapiti was quoted as saying. "If prospective studies confirm our results and find that anti-estrogen agents improve lung cancer outcomes, this could have substantial implications for clinical practice."

SOURCE: Cancer, published online January 24, 2011