Stopping or slowing the spread of lung cancer may depend on the addition of drugs that block the effects of estrogen, say researchers according to a recent study .
For the study researchers evaluated the effects of three different treatments that block the action of estrogen in human lung tumors grafted in mice. They studied the effectiveness of an estrogen receptor-blocking drug (fulvestrant, also known as Faslodex), an epidermal growth factor receptor-blocking drug (gefitinib, also known as Iressa), and a combination of both drugs.
Results showed combining both drugs was most effective at shrinking the tumors, with a 59-percent decrease in tumor volume compared to a 49-percent decrease using gefitinib alone and a 32-percent decrease using fulvestrant alone.
In another study done researchers found estrogen regulated some of the same growth genes in lung cancer as in breast cancer and results showed that the same estrogen inhibitor from the first study, fulvestrant, also blocked estrogen's ability to regulate lung cancer cell gene expression.
Thus researchers say both of these studies clearly suggest that lung cancer cells respond to estrogen and that improving overall patient survival may be contingent upon identifying therapies that target specific pathways and put a halt to estrogen signaling.