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New Medication Option For Women At High Risk For Breast Cancer

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Susan Talbert does not have breast cancer, but she is at high risk of getting the disease.

"I went for my screening mammogram last January and I had three areas of calcification which they classified as suspicious," she says.

Her doctor recommended she take a drug called anastrozole - brand name Arimidex. New research in the Lancet shows it could help post-menopausal women like Talbert by eliminating their estrogen production.

"The more estrogen you have in your body the more you can develop estrogen-related breast cancer," says Dr. Alison Estabrook of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital.

Researchers followed nearly 4,000 high-risk, post-menopausal women for nine years. They found patients who received the anti-hormone therapy lowered their chances of getting breast cancer by 53 percent.

"This is a very big finding because we used to put women on tamoxifen but that could lead to endometrial or uterine cancer," explains Dr. Estabrook.

Susan had been taking a drug similar to tamoxifen called Raloxifene. But researchers say anastrozole is more effective and has fewer and less serious side effects.

"The past options haven't been bad but this option is better," says Susan.

Side effects for anastrozole include joint pain and bone loss.

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