It seems like an odd pairing at first -- breast cancer drugs being used to help in the treatment of prostate cancer. But a new study, published today in BMC Medicine, has found that the breast-cancer drug tamoxifen may help ease some of the side effects of prostate cancer, such as the development of breast tissue and breast pain.
The study, which actually tracked four studies of men with prostate cancer, found that patients who used tamoxifen were less likely to have breast growth and pain than those who did not use the drug. In one study, men who took tamoxifen for six months were 10 percent less likely to have breast development and 6 percent less likely to have breast pain than men who did not supplement their prostate cancer treatment with the drug.
Many of the treatment methods used for prostate cancer suppress testosterone in an effort to hinder prostate cancer growth. But by suppressing testosterone, the body responds by producing even more hormones, many of which are converted in the body to estrogen. This in turn causes breast tissue to develop and pain in the breast area.
Researchers found that tamoxifen prevented prostate cancer side effects about 20 percent better than other treatments, such as the drug anastrozole, a medication which counteracts estrogen in the body.
According to the study, the growth of breast tissue and breast pain has been cited as reasons why men stop their prostate cancer treatments.