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Drug cuts recurrence of breast cancer

Letrozole, a drug that derails the body's production of estrogen, reduces breast cancer recurrences in women who have exhausted the usefulness of the anticancer drug tamoxifen, a new drug trial has revealed.

Tamoxifen stops breast cancers in many women by interfering with estrogen's proliferative effect on tumor cells. But taking tamoxifen for more than 5 years provides no additional benefit, compared with going off the drug after that period.

Researchers identified 5,157 post-menopausal women who had taken tamoxifen for about 5 years and randomly assigned them to take either an inert pill or letrozole, which wipes out nearly all estrogen in the body.

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