There is new hope for women who suffer from breast cancer as a new gel is being developed that could put an end to many unpleasant side effects of taking tablets.
The current treatment for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer is Tamoxifen, which does cut the deaths associated with breast cancer by upto 30%.
But many women are reluctant to stay on this treatment because of the adverse side effects which include weight gain, hot flushes and sickness. Studies have shown that women who stay on this drug for five years or more have a greater chance of surviving the disease than those who quit before, but many are quitting because of the unpleasant side effects.
The gel is currently on trial in the US and researcher Professor Seema Khan, the lead scientist says “We think this is a very good solution to those women who are reluctant to take Tamoxifen.” The gel is rubbed onto the skin of the breast and contains the exact same ingredients as Tamoxifen but as it is delivers directly into the skin, it is not dispersed around the body and as such, does not produce the side effects as the tablets do.
The way Tamoxifen works is that is travels to the bodies liver where it is broken down and then traverses around the body until it reaches the breast tissues. As the drug has potentially toxic ingredients it is these that produce the feelings of general unwellness that patients who are suffering from breast cancer find hard to contend with.
The gel – Afimoxifene is concentrated only on the specific areas of the breast and as such does not need to travel around the body, therefore it produces less side effects. A French trial instigated the study in the US as it showed that by rubbing the active ingredient of Tamoxifen onto the breast area slowed the growth of cancerous tumours as well as the orally given tablets.
The new study in the US will take volunteers who already have breast cancer and give them Tamoxifen tablets or the Afimoxifene gel and monitor the growth of the tumours over a period of time before their scheduled surgery to remove the tumours. This is an exciting breakthrough for women in the UK as 48,000 are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. It is thought that if the trials prove successful, the drug could be available over here within the next 3 to 4 years.