Although incidences of breast cancer in the U.S are on the decline, it still affects thousands of women across America. Health officials estimate that 231,840 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2015 alone.
Typically breast cancer is treated with medications such as tamoxifen, which blocks estrogen receptors – these cause cancer cells to grow. It’s been previously noted that women whose tumors had progesterone receptors fared better, but researchers didn’t know why.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide and the U.K.’s Cambridge Research Institute, worked to explain why those with progesterone receptors had better success in treatment. They suggest progesterone “talks” to estrogen to change the cells behavior. In turn this slows down tumor growth.
“We’ve used cutting-edge technology to tease out the crucial role that progesterone receptors play in breast cancer – a mystery that has baffled scientists for many years,” said study author Jason Carroll.
Researchers believe that by adding progesterone to breast cancer treatments they can expect better outcomes.
“This exciting study in cells shows how a cheap, safe, and widely available drug could potentially improve treatment for around half of all breast cancer patients,” noted Emma Smith, spokewoman for Cancer Research UK.
The findings were published in Nature.