Topical Cancer Drug Eliminates Some of the Side Effects of Its Oral Counterpart

A 2014 study published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, has revealed an exciting development in the war on cancer. A topically applied gel version of the commonly used cancer drug tamoxifen has shown itself to be equally effective as the traditional pill form in reducing the growth of cancer cells in women with noninvasive breast cancer.

After topically applying tamoxifen to women suffering from ductal carcinoma in situ for six to 10 weeks, the researchers said the results were comparable to those of women with the same ailment who took the medication orally for the same length of time.

The real breakthrough here, though, is that the gel had far fewer side effects during testing than its orally administered counterpart. While orally ingested tamoxifen has side effects ranging from hot flashes and vaginal dryness to blood clots and uterine cancer, the gel has shown significantly fewer instances of negative effects across the board. According to The Washington Post, Seema Khan, a surgical oncologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, says this has to do with the localization of the drug.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Valentina R.
Photo: Adobe Stock/Valentina R.

“There was very little drug in the bloodstream, which should avoid potential blood clots as well as an elevated risk of uterine cancer,” Khan told the source.

While more research is required, this is good news for breast cancer sufferers who dislike taking pills or who would like to avoid the unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects of orally administered tamoxifen. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about your treatment options.

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