Some potentially great news for women at high risk for breast cancer: The drug exemestane cut the risk of getting the disease by 65% in a three-year study, reports the Washington Post. The drug, also known by the brand name Aromasin, is currently used to help prevent recurrences of breast cancer. But the findings suggest that women at higher risk because of family history or other reasons could take the drug to stop breast cancer from occurring altogether, notes the New York Times. The side effects were minimal.
“This is a major step forward,” says an expert at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who was not involved in the research. Others cautioned that a three-year study is too short to draw long-term conclusions about the practice of giving healthy women—they're just at risk, not diagnosed—a drug for years on end. Aromasin costs $300 to $400 a month, but Pfizer's patent expired in April, and the price is expected to come down significantly, notes the Los Angeles Times. Read the study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which posted an accompanying editorial. (Read more breast cancer stories.)