Thursday, September 7, 2017


 A couple of women on Twitter drew attention the past week to this September 1 article in Telegraph by Laura Donnelly.

NHS rationing bodies refuse to fund treatment which stalls breast cancer 

According to the article, The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence said there was a lack of evidence to prove that the drug called fulvestrant extended lives.   

Studies that said fulvestrant "stalls the cancer’s growth by around three months" were seen as weak on research. 

Also NHS  feel it is too expensive compared to other available drugs. So over a thousand women will apparently not get the drug until it is studied further. 

The article says Fulvestrant is "licensed for women with oestrogen-receptor positive cancer, who have not already had other forms of hormonal treatment."  (my bolding)

Right there I began to find different takes on the drug as used in the states.

 Medline Plus for instance seems to find different rules on who is eligible here for the drug:  

"Fulvestrant is used to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer (breast cancer that depends on hormones such as estrogen to grow) in women who have experienced menopause (change of life; end of monthly menstrual periods) " and whose breast cancer has worsened after they were treated with antiestrogen medications such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex). (Bolding mine.)
Fulvestrant is also used in combination with palbociclib (Ibrance®) to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer in women whose breast cancer has worsened after they were treated with antiestrogen medications such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex)."

Also "Fulvestrant is in a class of medications called estrogen receptor antagonists. It works by blocking the action of estrogen on cancer cells. This can slow or stop the growth of some breast tumors that need estrogen to grow."

More specifics from
"Fulvestrant is approved to treat:  Breast cancer in postmenopausal women. It is used in patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer that has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body) after treatment with other antiestrogens."   There it is again!  Not for use here as a woman's first antiestrogen. 
So  who should get it as the first antiestrogen, and who should not.
Aside from who should get it, I found notes on what it does from

On this site, Tamoxifen, which I take, is explained  as a SERM -  drugs that bind to estrogen receptors, keeping estrogen from binding with them.  Serms are also versatile, acting as estrogen agonists in other parts of the body.  
BUT Faslodex/fulvestrant is presented as a different substance entirely:  "However, unlike SERMs, fulvestrant has no estrogen agonist effects. It is a pure antiestrogen.
 In addition, when fulvestrant binds to the estrogen receptor, the receptor is targeted for destruction."    (my bolding)

Those last three powerful words from an American site might be interpreted as hope or ammunition for argument by the women who are protesting the refusal to use fulvestrant without more testing.  

Who is right?  How could we ever know?  

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