While many people are aware of the two most significant risks of developing breast cancer—being a woman and ageing—people tend to disregard the idea of developing this disease at a young age. Although it is slightly rarer, young women can (and do) get breast cancer. In fact, a total of 18 per cent of all breast cancer cases in Canada occur in females under the age of 50. And while there are several treatments for breast cancer, chemotherapy is among the most common.
Chemotherapy refers to a series of drug treatments that destroy cancer cells by stopping their ability to grow and divide. And although this treatment does, in fact, kill cancer cells; it can also cause irreparable damage to healthy cells—like the ones that line a person’s intestines, or those which promote hair growth—and trigger various side effects. One particular side effect of chemotherapy that many young women experience is early menopause. However, a recent study may have found the answer to preventing early menopause in young breast cancer patients: incorporating the drug goserelin to chemotherapy.
If you plan on pursuing pharmaceutical training, this is one drug you might be researching and testing once you break into the industry. Read on to learn more about how it might have the ability to alter traditional chemotherapy.
A Study of Goserelin
A recently published study, which was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, tracked the outcomes of 257 premenopausal women, all under the age of 50, who had been diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer. Individuals enrolled in clinical research courses know that participants of clinical trials are usually randomly assigned different treatments, so researchers can compare the effects of both drugs. During this study, some of these women received traditional chemotherapy treatments, while others received chemotherapy with goserelin.
Potential to Change Chemotherapy
After a period of two years, researchers found that 22 per cent of the women who received traditional chemotherapy had developed signs of menopause, while only a mere 8 per cent of the women who were treated with goserelin showed the same signs. Goserelin was not only able to prevent early menopause, but it also significantly enhanced fertility in the women who were treated with the drug. Experts know that goserelin is effective because it acts as a shield to protect fertility, as it temporarily puts the ovaries “at rest” during chemotherapy treatments.
Lead researcher, Dr. Albain, has stated that the drug is also safe—“we found that, in addition to reducing the risk of sudden, early menopause, and all of the symptoms that go along with menopause, goserelin was very safe and may even improve survival,” says Albain.
Do you think that experts with regulatory affairs certification might be approving the safety of the use of this drug for breast cancer patients sometime soon?