Gel Works as Well as a Pill to Prevent Breast Cancer

A gel form of a drug shown to prevent breast cancer works as well as a pill, researchers reported Monday. Women who rubbed the topical form of tamoxifen into the breast seemed to get the same benefits as those who took the pill, and theoretically could be at a lower risk of side effects such as blood clots, the team at Northwestern University in Chicago found. Dr. Seema Khan and colleagues tested tamoxifen gel on 26 women with a type of pre-cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). After six to 10 weeks, a gene that’s linked with development of breast tumors was affected to almost the same degree in women who used the gel and women who took the pill, Khan’s team reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. But they had less of the drug circulating in their blood than the pill takers, something that should reduce the risk of blood clots and uterine cancer. “Delivering the drug though a gel, if proven effective in larger trials, could potentially replace oral tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention and DCIS and encourage many more women to take it,” Khan said.

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— Maggie Fox