Depression drug helps breast cancer treatment: study

15:19, December 12, 2010      

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Applying a depression drug to breast cancer treatment may relieve joint and muscle pain, a new study revealed on Saturday.

The study looked at the drug duloxetine, or Cymbalta, which is used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) said on its website.

The drug is also been shown to work in multiple other chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and, more recently, osteoarthritis, and is believed to decrease pain through its actions in the central nervous system, the AAAS said.

The study involved women who ere taking aromatase inhibitors, a type of drug designed to block the production of estrogen, which fuels some breast cancers.

About half of women taking these drugs experience aches and pains in their joints and muscles that cannot be adequately relieved by over-the-counter painkillers. Up to 20 percent of these women will stop taking an aromatase inhibitor because of this pain.

But after taking Duloxetine, nearly three-quarters of the 29 patients reported that their pain had decreased by at least 30 percent. On average, after eight weeks of treatment, pain scores declined 61 percent. Only one in five patients stopped taking duloxetine because of side effects.

"Since women typically take these drugs for five years, it is important that the side effects not interfere too much with their quality of life, or they will be less likely to continue taking the medicine, which may lead to a greater chance of their breast cancer returning," said study author N. Lynn Henry, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Duloxetine appears to be effective at reducing the muscle and joint pain many women experience from aromatase inhibitors, with only mild additional side effects," Henry said in the study.

Henry presented the initial results of the study at the 33rd AnnualBreast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, according to the AAAS.

The researchers are planning a randomized, controlled trial comparing duloxetine to placebo, the AAAS said.

Source: Xinhua
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