Komen for the Cure

New research recommends breast cancer survivors stay on prescription hormone inhibitors

Posted November 9, 2017 5:18 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:06 p.m. EDT

Groundbreaking research just released suggests some troubling news for breast cancer survivors.

The author of that study, Dr. Daniel Hayes, spoke Thursday in Chapel Hill at a research luncheon put on by Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast.

Patients who have been cancer-free for five years often consider themselves safe.

Dr. Hayes found that even 20 years after diagnosis, patients with the most common type of breast cancer – called estrogen-positive or hormone-positive breast cancer – face a risk of their cancer returning or spreading.

Komen Triangle 2016 Race for the Cure

"What we found, and this is the bad news, as long as those women were alive for the next 15 years, there was a risk of their cancer coming back somewhere besides their breast, (in their) bones or their liver, the places we don't cure patients very well, if at all, just keep happening at the same rate," Daniels said.

Many breast cancer survivors take prescription medication – Tamoxifen or newer drugs called aromatase inhibitors – to prevent a recurrence of their cancer, but often those prescriptions are only for five years.

Daniels' research shows patients may want to continue taking drugs beyond five years to keep the cancer suppressed.

Also during the event, WRAL Health Team's Dr. Allen Mask moderated a panel discussion of local breast cancer experts.