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Using estrogen to combat persistent breast cancer

In some patients, hormone typically seen as troublemaker can induce cancer cells to self-destruct

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5:01pm, August 18, 2009

In some breast cancer patients who have tried everything but chemotherapy, estrogen can stall tumor growth, a new study finds.

The idea is counterintuitive since estrogen acts as a growth stimulant in most breast cancers. But using the hormone as an anticancer weapon is actually an old strategy that might offer a new treatment option, researchers report in the Aug. 19 Journal of the American Medical Association. They are cautiously optimistic because a screening test used in the new study can determine with considerable accuracy which breast cancer patients would probably benefit from estrogen.

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