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"New breast cancer drug touted: could replace most popular drug"

Toronto Star

Source: Toronto Star

Published: 18 Apr 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Post-menopausal women who are at high risk of getting breast cancer may soon have another option in their medicine cabinet to fight off the deadly disease.
A study of about 20,000 women in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico - one of the largest of its kind - has found that the osteoporosis drug raloxifene also helps prevent breast cancer. And it does so without many of the serious side effects, such as uterine cancer, pulmonary embolisms or deep vein thrombosis, that can come with tamoxifen.
The study, called STAR (or Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene), is already being heralded as a real breakthrough for post-menopausal women, offering them another weapon in the arsenal against the disease.
It was conducted by the National Cancer Institute and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project in the U.S....

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 7 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The results showed that the raloxifene group was very slightly more likely to get breast cancer, but both groups slashed their risk by approximately 50 per cent.

Overall the story handled the statistics well. It would have been useful to have more information about the mechanism of action. To the general public, why would an anti-osteoporosis drug prevent breast cancer? It's not intuitively obvious, so you might need information about estrogen receptors.

Again this story repeats the statistics found in other stories about the STAR triial: "29 per cent fewer cases of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism" without giving absolute numbers.

Information on costs of the treatment, as opposed to the cost of the trial would have been more useful.

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