Breast cancer: Common drugs may halt post-surgery relapse

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Washington, Apr 16 (TNS): After cancer surgery particularly for breast cancer many patients experience an early tumour recurrence. It is not clear why, but new research suggests that common pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent that from happening.

The answer to early relapse after breast cancer surgery may be closer than we think. In many cancer types especially in the case of breast cancer surgery is often preferred when it comes to removing primary tumours. However, the recurrence of cancer after surgery is not an uncommon occurrence. Some who have gone through surgery are at an increased risk of early recurrence, although the precise reasons why are currently unclear. In a new study whose results have been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, first author Jordan Krall and colleagues from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, MA, and other institutions have begun to uncover some clues and investigate how these cases of early relapse might be avoided.

A partial explanation for these outcomes has become clear: in as many as one-third of patients diagnosed with localized breast cancer, carcinoma cells have already disseminated to distant anatomical sites at the time of initial diagnosis,” the authors explain in their paper. Until surgery, such tumour cells may remain in a state of limbo, with their harmful potential blocked by the body’s immune response. In a subset of patients, however,” the authors say, “a small fraction of such clinically in apparent cancer cells ultimately renew proliferation and spawn life-threatening metastases or secondary tumours.  However, Krall and team’s recent study on mice has revealed a ray of hope in the shape of a type of commonly available drug used to fight pain and reduce inflammation no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs seem to reduce the risk of early post-operatory relapse in the patients to whom they are administered during surgery.