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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More