Medical Advances

A New Way to Fight Breast Cancer

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Gel Form Offers Prevention Without Side Effects

2014 has seen medical breakthroughs of all shapes and sizes. From a new cure for hepatitis C to new technology to fight migraines, scientists have advanced in a range of medical fields. And for women at risk for breast cancer, a new Northwestern Medicine study in tamoxifen administration may present the potential for improved preventative care with fewer side effects.

Tamoxifen is a drug frequently prescribed to prevent breast cancer in women at increased risk, but many women avoid the treatment due to intense side effects. Women with dual carcinoma in situ (DCIS) or a strong family history of the cancer sometimes forgo tamoxifen to avoid the hot flashes, blood clots and other symptoms associated with the pill.

A new study led by Seema Khan, MD, professor of surgery and Bluhm Family Professor of Cancer Research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, showed tamoxifen in gel form, when applied to the skin, could decrease abnormal cell growth without any increase in the blood markers associated with the negative side effects.

The topical gel treatment, which could potentially improve preventive breast cancer treatment in women at risk, may also represent the opportunity for similar discoveries with other drugs.

Read about Northwestern Medicine’s discovery in Time’s “6 Medical Breakthroughs That Matter” and learn more about the specialty care available through the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

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