A new study shows that the hormone progesterone could be utilized to deter the growth of many tumors.
“The UK and Australian researchers say the findings are very significant and they are planning clinical trials. Cancer Research UK said the study was highly significant and could help thousands of women,” according to the BBC.
Experts say that hormones play a major role in breast cancer. They can make a cancerous cell split by hooking up with hormone receptors on the surface of a cancer in a person’s body. One of the most successful breast cancer drugs on the market today, tamoxifen, bungs up the oestrogen receptor to keep the cancer from spreading.
Cancers with progesterone receptors were known to be less fatal, but the reason why was unclear and they have not been explored as a new treatment method. But now a team at the University of Cambridge and the University of Adelaide have studied cancer cells that are growing in their lab.
“They show that the progesterone receptor and the oestrogen receptor are closely linked and that the progesterone receptor can make the oestrogen receptor less nasty,” according to the BBC.
Researchers told the BBC that the cancer cells growing in the lab grew to half the size when treated with progesterone and tamoxifen than when given only tamoxifen. Experts are now putting together a clinical trial to see how breast cancer patients do on this treatment plan.
Professor Caldas from the University of Cambridge, was part of the study, and commented on it to BBC News.
He said, “It appears you control the tumors better, but to prove it is better in women with breast cancer we need to do the trial. It 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.”
Experts estimate that around 75% of women have breast cancers with the oestrogen receptor and of those, 75% also have progesterone receptors. It implies that roughly half of women could benefit from it.
Dr. Smith, from Cancer Research UK, told the BBC the early results were an exciting prospect. She also said:
“This is a highly significant finding. It could be an easy, cheap and simple way to improve the survival of thousands of women, but it needs clinical trials.” Researchers, experts, patients and the medical community in general are excited about what this could mean for helping more women beat breast cancer.