Breast Cancer Scientists discover drug that could increase life span of patients

Though the study is in it's early stages, it hints that the hormone progesterone could be used to slow the growth of some tumours.

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Scientists have discovered a drug that could increase the life span of patients with breast cancer.

Though the study is in it's early stages, it hints that the hormone progesterone could be used to slow the growth of some tumours.

The UK and Australian researchers say the findings, published in the journal Nature, are "very significant" and they are planning clinical trials

Also, Cancer Research UK said the study was "highly significant" and could help thousands of women.

A team at the University of Cambridge and the University of Adelaide showed that the progesterone receptor and the oestrogen receptor are closely linked and that the progesterone receptor can make the oestrogen receptor less nasty.

Cancer cells growing in the laboratory grew to half the size when treated with progesterone and tamoxifen than when given tamoxifen alone.

According to Prof Carlos Caldas from the University of Cambridge who spoke with BBC, the study "could be very significant. In early breast cancer you could increase the number of people being cured and in advanced breast cancer, where we're not curing, we could control the disease for longer."

The researchers are in the first stages of planning a clinical trial.

About 75% of women have breast cancers with the oestrogen receptor and of those, 75% also have progesterone receptors.

Thus, it is suggested that roughly half of women could benefit.

Also speaking on the findings, Dr Emma Smith, from Cancer Research UK, said the early results were an "exciting" prospect.

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