Breast cancer treatment could be transformed by using men’s prostate cancer drugs to shrink tumours, researchers have claimed.
The early stages of a new study suggest that prostate drugs could treat certain forms of breast cancer by blocking the tumour-fuelling effects of testosterone.
More than a fifth of breast tumours are not stimulated by oestrogen, making them hard to treat because they do not respond to therapies such as tamoxifen.
Prostate drugs that work in a similar way to tamoxifen could be used to treat these “oestrogen negative” tumours, according to the study.
Laboratory tests showed that it might be possible to combat the tumours by using prostate hormone therapy to block a testosterone pathway that switches on genes normally activated by oestrogen.
Lead researcher Dr Ian Mills, from Cancer Research UK’s Cambridge Research Institute, said: “This important discovery suggests that patients with a type of oestrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer may potentially benefit from therapies given to prostate cancer patients, which could transform treatment for this patient group in the future.”