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For Immediate Release:
March 30, 2005

Rebecca Farmer
Breast Cancer Action
415-243-9301, ext. 16

Breast Cancer Action Discourages Women from Enrolling in ExCel Study of Aromatase Inhibitors 

Breast Cancer Action (BCA) today called on women in the U.S. and Canada to refuse the invitation to enroll in a new breast cancer “prevention trial.”

“Breast Cancer Action has serious concerns about the new study of aromatase inhibitors for the so-called ‘prevention’ of breast cancer,” said Barbara Brenner, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action. “This is a trial in which perfectly healthy women will be given strong drugs with unknown side effects. We used to treat disease, now we treat risk and take big chances with women’s health.”

Aromatase inhibitors are very new additions to the breast cancer treatment regimen, with unknown long-term effects. Exemestane, the drug being evaluated for use in healthy, postmenopausal women in the ExCel study, is currently only approved to treat metastatic disease.

“How can we justify using aromatase inhibitors in healthy women, even on a trial basis?” Brenner said. “We’re talking about treating healthy women with powerful drugs. Previous attempts at disease prevention using pills have resulted instead in disease substitution. How can women be sure that the same thing won’t happen here, given that we don’t have long-term data on this class of drugs? There is not even information available yet on how long women with breast cancer should take these drugs.

“The first breast cancer prevention trial, which ended in 1998, was highly controversial. True prevention will never come in the form of a pill,” Brenner said. Research focused on breast cancer prevention would be better directed at what in our environment is making women sick, rather than pills for private profit.”

For more information: www.publicsright2know.org

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