Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice

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Review of hormonal treatment of breast cancer

IH Abdulkareem, IB Zurmi


This critical review focuses on the role of steroid hormones and their receptors in the development and treatment of breast cancer, with special reference to estrogen receptors, as well as mechanisms of receptor.ligand interactions, response or resistance to hormonal therapy against breast cancer, in conjunction with other modalities like surgery and chemotherapy. Tamoxifen is used in hormonal treatment of breast cancer for up to five years, depending on the presentation. However, there have been recent developments in hormonal therapy of breast cancer in the last ten years, with the introduction of many different alternative therapies for this condition. A critical review of published articles in Pubmed/Medline, Athens, AJOL, NHS Evidence, Science Direct and Google, relating to hormonal treatment of breast cancer, was undertaken, in order to evaluate the mechanisms of estrogen receptor.ligand interactions, their involvement in the etio.pathogenesis of breast cancer, resistance of breast cancer cells to anti.hormonal agents, as well as ways of treating breast cancer using anti.hormone drugs like tamoxifen. Although tamoxifen is the established drug for hormonal treatment of breast cancer, cases of hormone resistance breast cancer have been described recently in the literature. This can happen from the beginning, or during treatment. Therefore, we aim to examine the causes of resistance to hormonal treatment with a view to understand the options of tackling this problem, and suggest other novel alternative hormonal therapies that can be tried, which may overtake tamoxifen in the future. We also seek to emphasize that hormonal therapy has a definite place in the treatment of breast cancer along with surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as the disease is often considered to be multi.systemic even from the beginning.

Keywords: Breast cancer, hormones, estrogen, progesterone

Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice • Jan-Mar 2012 • Vol 15 • Issue 1
AJOL African Journals Online