By Kay Quinn Healthbeat Reporter
St. Louis (KSDK) - Encouraging news for a large number of women with breast cancer.
In this week's 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer segment, we take a look at the promising results of a drug that's keeping the disease from coming back.
"I think it's going to be a significant contributor in the way we treat breast cancer in certain patients," said Dr. Julie Margenthaler, a breast surgeon at Siteman Cancer Center.
The drug Dr. Margenthaler is talking about is the osteoporosis drug called Zometa.
Over the past five to eight years, it's shown big promise in preventing breast cancer in patients with advanced disease who need a bone protective aspect to their treatment.
"Patients who are young, specifically who are made post-menopausal by their treatment, were shown to have the greatest benefit or women who have been post-menopausal for a great period of time so that's a large group of women with breast cancer," said Dr. Margenthaler.
The theory is Zometa makes the bones stronger and harder for breast cancer cells to move in. It may also have an anti-cancer effect on circulating tumor cells. But it's not without side effects.
"The main side effects being fever or bone or joint pain and then one side effect which is jaw necrosis or weakening of the jaw also needs to be monitored," said Dr. Margenthaler.
But in combination with other drugs, it's moving to the forefront in cancer prevention.
"I think it is very promising in adding to the arsenal we have in breast cancer treatment," said Dr. Margenthaler.