RALEIGH, N.C. — Celebrex packs a powerful punch against arthritis pain, but the drug could be just as useful in helping prevent breast cancer.
That is good news for the more than 29 million American woman at high risk for the disease
As a registered nurse, Andi Stettner knows to be prepared for anything. She is even prepared for the possibility of breast cancer.
Stettner was 19 when her mother died from breast cancer, putting her at a greater risk for developing the disease.
"Having a mother who died so young, it's constantly in the back your mind. It's not, 'is this going to occur' to me anymore. It's 'when is this going to happen to me,'" she said.
Stettner, 38, cannot change her family history, but is doing something that could lower her risk. She is taking part in a study to see if Celebrex, a popular medication for arthritis, may also help prevent breast cancer.
Researchers believe Celebrex may either slow or stop the growth of precancerous cells.
"What we believe is that if this drug reduces the rate of growth in these precancerous cells, that it will also ultimately result in a decrease in breast cancer itself," researcher Carol Fabian said.
It will be years before results are in. In the meantime, Stettner is following all the known prevention guidelines. She gets yearly mammograms, does not drink and exercises.
Stettner said she wants to do everything she can to protect herself.
"I'm hitting my 40s pretty soon and I don't want to be worried about cancer," she said. "I want to worry about raising my children, enjoying my life and taking vacations."
Tamoxifen is currently the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for reducing breast cancer risk.
Tamoxifen is not an option for women who are trying to get pregnant. If Celebrex is proven effective, it could be an option for them.