A gel form of the drug tamoxifen may be effective in preventing breast cancer, Medical News Today reported.
Tamoxifen is a hormone drug that binds to estrogen receptors, inhibiting cell division. For women at high-risk for breast cancer, the drug is prescribed orally as a preventative measure. It is also used to treated advanced stages of the disease.
In a new study published in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers at Northwestern University compared the effects of oral tamoxifen with a gel form of the product in women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer. The study group included 26 women between ages 45 and 86 years old; each participant was randomly assigned a treatment product.
The researchers found that the gel form was as effective as the oral medication in terms of reducing cell proliferation. Use of the gel form also resulted in fewer side effects, including a reduction in blood clot risk factors. Researchers noted that the gel group did not show any significant improvement in vaginal symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, hot flashes or sweats, as compared to the oral medication group.
"Oral tamoxifen is used by some women at high risk for breast cancer to prevent the development of the disease," said lead author Dr. Seema A. Khan, a professor of surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "And our data suggest that gel application of tamoxifen could replace this approach, thus encouraging more women to adhere to preventive therapy."