News / Health

Study: Drug Preserves Fertility in Younger Women With Cancer

Christy Wolford, a breast cancer survivor, had her ovaries suppressed during cancer treatment and she has had three boys since treatment ended in 2006. She holds son Lucas, 2, as her other children play in the background in Fort Collins, Colo., May 29, 2014.
Christy Wolford, a breast cancer survivor, had her ovaries suppressed during cancer treatment and she has had three boys since treatment ended in 2006. She holds son Lucas, 2, as her other children play in the background in Fort Collins, Colo., May 29, 2014.
VOA News
A new treatment approach may help thousands of women with early-stage breast cancer avoid premature menopause and preserve their ability to have children, U.S. researchers said.

A study, presented at the annual meeting of American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago, showed that women who received AstraZeneca PLC's drug goserelin along with chemotherapy were 64 percent less likely to develop premature menopause than women who had chemotherapy alone. They were also more likely to have successful pregnancies, and the treatment appeared to improve survival.

Chemotherapy often causes premature ovarian failure, or early menopause. Doctors think that active ovaries are more susceptible to chemo damage, and that making the ovaries go dormant and stopping a woman's monthly cycles might help shield them from harm. It might even improve survival, a study found.

The study involved 257 women around the world under age 50 with breast cancers whose growth is not fueled by estrogen. They all had standard chemo and half also had monthly shots of goserelin, a drug to lower estrogen and temporarily put the ovaries at rest. Its main side effects are menopause symptoms - hot flashes and vaginal dryness, the AP reported.

Doctors then tracked the women to see how the treatments affected fertility.

Study results

After two years, full results were available on 135 participants. Only 8 percent of those given the shots became menopausal versus 22 percent of the others who didn't get them. There were 22 pregnancies in the drug group versus 12 in the other one.

That's encouraging, but firm comparisons can't really be made because not all women may have been trying to conceive, and other factors such as a partner's fertility play a role, the AP reported.

Still, "the difference was enough that in spite of all the limitations in the study, we were pretty convincingly able to see an effect," said the study's leader, Dr. Halle Moore of the Cleveland Clinic, according to the AP.

The benefits go beyond preserving fertility, said Dr. Kathy Albain, a breast cancer specialist at Chicago's Loyola University and one of the study leaders.

"Some women don't care about having children" after breast cancer, but would like to avoid "being jolted into early menopause" by chemo treatment, she said.

About a quarter of breast cancers occur in women under 50, affecting some 40,000 to 50,000 women each year. Unlike natural menopause, which occurs gradually, chemotherapy can suddenly throw a woman into full-blown menopause. In about half of these women, this condition is permanent, eliminating the chance for a future pregnancy.

"This is the first time anything has been shown to prevent this," said Albain. "I think these findings are going to change our clinical practice."

During the study's design, researchers were concerned that adding the hormone treatment might hurt the women's breast cancer treatment, Reuters reported.

But the results suggest women who got goserelin were 50 percent more likely to be alive four years after starting treatment compared with those receiving the standard therapy.

National Cancer Day

To mark National Cancer Day, the American Cancer Society noted that there are 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States and that number is expected to grow to 19 million over the next decade.

More cancers are cured, more people are living longer with the disease and people are living longer in general, which boosts the number of cases and survivors because the risk of developing cancer rises with age, the American Cancer Society noted in a report by the AP.

The report came on the third day of the annual meeting of ASCO, the world's largest group of specialists who treat cancer. This year's event, ASCO's 50th, brings together 30,000 doctors, researchers and pharmaceutical agents from around the world.

"Scientifically, the field of oncology has never been more exciting," said Clifford Hudis, president of ASCO, according to the French news agency AFP.

Progess made

Hudis cited new targeted therapies that take aim at the cellular functions of tumors, leading to progress against some difficult to treat cancers. Also, immunotherapy is an exciting field that uses a patient's own immune system to attack tumors, and is showing promise against melanoma, leukemia, and a handful of other cancers.

"We have made incredible progress in 50 years," said Jyoti Patel, a cancer specialist at Northwestern University, according to AFP

"The scientific breakthroughs in cancer are occurring at a breathtaking pace and are being translated into new drugs and devices that benefit patients more quickly than ever before," said Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of ASCO, AFP reported.

However, he warned that this progress is in jeopardy due to a shortage of research funds, particularly from the National Institutes of Health, the largest government funder of US scientific research wich in 2013 had a budget of $28.9 billion.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

You May Like

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs