CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
UI is main center for national breast cancer prevention
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Women in Iowa and Illinois who
have a high risk for developing breast cancer will have the opportunity to enroll
in a nationwide study to test a medication that researchers hope will prevent
Currently, a medication called tamoxifen is the only
proven method of preventing breast cancer. A study of 13,000 women showed tamoxifen
reduced by 50 percent the development of a first breast tumor in women considered
to be at high risk for the disease. That made tamoxifen the first drug found
to prevent cancer, although it is not yet clear if the protection is permanent.
Researchers believe that the medication they are about to
study, called raloxifene, may also decrease a woman's risk for developing breast
Peter Jochimsen, M.D., UI professor of surgery and a surgical
oncologist with University of Iowa Health Care, and Keith Wright, M.D., of Oncology
Associates in Cedar Rapids, will serve as the study's principal investigators
in eastern Iowa. The research project is dubbed, "Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene,"
"We don't know for sure if raloxifene will be as effective
as tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer," said Jochimsen. "We need to test
it scientifically. We hope raloxifene will eventually prove to be as effective
as tamoxifen in preventing breast cancer, while also perhaps having the added
advantage that it will not increase the risk for cancer of the endometrium."
Tamoxifen has an effect upon the lining of the uterus, called
the endometrium. That effect can result in endometrial cancer, but when it is
diagnosed in the early stages, the cure rate is high. Preliminary studies indicate
that raloxifene doesn't appear to increase the risk of endometrial cancer.
Raloxifene has already been approved by the Food and Drug
Administration for the prevention of bone loss, a process called osteoporosis,
leading to reduction in fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. It also appears
to protect women from heart disease. "We just don't yet know the long-term benefits
or risks of raloxifene," said Jochimsen. "STAR should give us those answers
that are so important for protecting the health of women."
STAR begins today. The study
is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and will be conducted by research
professionals who are members of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel
Project. Researchers plan to enroll 22,000 postmenopausal women in the trial,
which is expected to last five to 10 years. All women participating in STAR
will take either raloxifene or tamoxifen.
Researchers will evaluate women to determine if they are
eligible to enroll in STAR. Women generally have a higher risk for developing
breast cancer if they are over 60, have a family history of breast cancer, have
had noninvasive breast cancer or pre-cancerous breast abnormalities, began to
menstruate before age 12, and have not had any children or had their first child
after age 30.
There are more than 400 STAR research centers, including
Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. In addition to the main centers, there
are satellite sub-centers that will enable women to enroll in STAR closer to
home. Those sites include the Bliss Cancer Center - McFarland Clinic in Ames;
Cedar Valley Medical Specialists in Waterloo; Genesis Medical Center in Davenport;
Hinsdale Hematology Oncology Associates in Hinsdale, Ill.; Medical Associates
in Clinton; Trinity Medical Center Cancer Research in Rock Island, Ill.
For more information about the study, contact the UI Cancer
Information Service at (319) 356-4262 or 800-237-1225.