Nightly News   |  December 12, 2013

Cancer drug may also help prevent breast cancer, study says

The drug anastrozole, sold commercially as Armidex, has been used to treat post-menopausal women after they’ve been treated for breast cancer – but now it’s believed that drug can help prevent cancer in high-risk women -- with fewer side effects. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> we are back here with good news about fighting breast cancer for women at high risk . there may be a new way to prevent the disease without all the side effects so many people have come to dread. anne thompson has more tonight on the new research presented at a meeting of breast cancer specialists in texas.

>> for the first time in houston astro franchise history, they will play in the world series .

>> reporter: pam gardner is a competitor and a pioneer spending 23 years with the houston astros , 11 as president. she is the longest serving female executive in major league baseball , even honored in the hall of fame . success is no defense against disease. breast cancer runs in her family, putting her at high risk . she's managed it with exams and removal of two benign lumps but no drugs yet.

>> i have weighed those over the last few years. i have elected not to take them. now there is something newer that they are looking at that may be an option for me.

>> reporter: that something new is actually an old drug. anastrozole has been used for years to treat post menopausal women after they have had breast cancer fuelled by estrogen. a study say says it can help prevent estrogen-fuelled breast cancer in high risk women decreasing the risk by 53%. researchers say it is a homerun.

>> it works on both dimensions. more effective and less side effects .

>> reporter: tomofoxin has major side effects .

>> the harms are an increased risk of uterine cancer , blood clots, cataracts, also hot flashs.

>> reporter: the study involved almost 3900 women between the age os of 40 and 70 at increased risk for breast cancer . half got anastrozol every day. the others got a placebo. after five years 40 women on anastrazole got breast cancer versus 85 in the placebo group. who could this help? this can help those with a family history , dense breasts and some type of benign lumps.

>> reporter: now building a second career as a consultant the drug offers gardner a new way to stay in the game. anne thompson , nbc news, new