New Drug Could Improve The Quality Of Life In Breast Cancer Survivors

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Breast cancer survivors’ quality of life could be improved with this latest discovery.

New research that was led by oncologists Roberto Leon-Ferre, M.D. and Charles Loprinzi, M.D. of Mayo Clinic have found that the drug oxybutynin is able to reduce the frequency and also the intensity of hot flashes in women who are not able to take hormone replacement therapy which includes cancer survivors as well.

The findings have been presented at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

“Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause and can be even more severe in breast cancer survivors than they are in the general population,” says Dr. Leon-Ferre.

He also said that there are more factors that are contributing to the increased severity of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors which include the exposure to chemo.

This can bring early menopause. Another factor involves antiestrogen drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors and also the use of medications/procedures for suppressing the ovaries’ functions.

Hormone therapy is not recommended for cancer survivors 

Hormone replacement therapy is sometimes used to treat the hot flashes, but it’s not recommended for survivors of breast cancer.

“Hot flashes not only impact a patient’s quality of life, but they are also associated with patients prematurely discontinuing breast cancer treatment, which may increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence and mortality,” said Dr. Leon-Ferre. “It is important for physicians to have effective options to treat hot flashes.”

According to him, previous research has suggested that hot flashes may be relieved with oxybutynin which is an anticholinergic agent which can interfere with the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system.

The drug is usually used to treat urinary incontinence.

Since the medication is already available for other uses, physicians could potentially prescribe it off-label. Unfortunately, the study did not address long-term toxicity of oxybutynin such as cognitive decline.