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In the News Archive

Drug shows promise treating breast cancer

  • August 4, 2008
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By Kay Quinn, Special to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 4, 2008

It''s being called a new frontier in treating breast cancer. A drug initially designed to lower blood calcium in cancer patients with extremely elevated levels, and successfully used to treat osteoporosis, is now being investigated as an agent that could prevent the spread and progression of cancer of the breast.

One local doctor believes the drug, called Zometa, could one day be prescribed for all women diagnosed with the disease.

"I''ve had four cycles of the Zometa thus far and I feel good,'''' said JoAnn Williams, 54, of St. Louis, a volunteer in a study conducted at Siteman Cancer Center.

Williams will receive regular infusions of the drug for the next 2 1/2 years to see if it keeps her cancer from returning. She was asked to participate shortly after being diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in December.

"I was just devastated," Williams said. "I was devastated to hear the news."

Her mother died of the disease in 1997, and her father died of lung cancer just four months earlier. The chance of preventing a recurrence was important to her.

"There was a lot of anxiety going on knowing my mom had cancer, my dad had cancer, and now I have cancer," Williams said of her reasons for joining the study.

Initial results of the Siteman study show Zometa helps decrease the number of cancer cells in the bone marrow of women with localized breast cancer.

The finding was similar to that of a large trial in Europe that showed Zometa may help prevent the spread of breast cancer.

Williams said the side effects from Zometa were few. She had a vague achy feeling that went away a few days after her intravenous infusion.

"Behind chemo, anything is tolerable," Williams said.

Now she''s focusing on the clinical trial, and on keeping a positive attitude following her own cancer diagnosis.

"I have a strong family support," Williams said. "My husband is astronomical, he is the best man in the world."

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