According to an early online publication from the Annals of Oncology, fenretinide, a retinoid (derivative of vitamin A), appears to significantly reduce the risk of developing a second breast cancer among premenopausal women already diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 200,000 women annually in the U.S. alone. Patients with localized breast cancer (cancer that has not spread far from its site of origin) tend to have high cure rates following standard therapy. However, some women will develop a second cancer following treatment. Researchers continue to evaluate ways to prevent or reduce these women’s risk of developing a second cancer.
Researchers from Italy recently evaluated long-term results from a phase III trial evaluating the use of fenretinide after standard therapy in women diagnosed with breast cancer. This study included 1,739 women aged 30-70. Approximately half of the women had been treated with fenretinide for five years following standard therapy, and the other half did not receive fenretinide (control group).
At nearly 15 years of follow-up, the following data were reported:
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- The development of a second breast cancer, either in the breast where the original cancer occurred or in the opposite breast, was greatly reduced among premenopausal women who were treated with fenretinide.
- Premenopausal women aged 40 years or younger had a 50% reduction in the development of a second breast cancer compared to the control group.
- All premenopausal women had a reduction in the development of a second breast cancer, with the youngest women deriving the greatest benefit from fenretinide compared to the control group.
- Postmenopausal women derived no benefit from fenretinide.
The researchers concluded that treatment with fenretinide for five years following standard therapy appears to drastically reduce the long-term risk of developing a second breast cancer among premenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer. However, there appears to be no benefit from fenretinide for postmenopausal women with breast cancer.
Reference: Veronesi U, Mariani L, Decensi A, et al. Fifteen-Year Results of a Randomized Phase III Trial of Fenretinide to Prevent Second Breast Cancer. Annals of Oncology. Early online publication May 4, 2006. DOI: 10.1093/annonc/mdl047.
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