Hormone drug eases breast pain for some women

Premenopausal women who suffer from breast pain may find relief with a drug called goserelin, or Zoladex, which blocks the female hormone estrogen, UK researchers report.

“This therapy is useful in patients who have failed other treatments for breast pain,” Dr. Robert E. Mansel, from Cardiff University told AMN Health. “It is currently not licensed for this indication, but it can be used at the physician’s discretion.”

Breast pain (mastalgia) is a common problem for many premenopausal women and usually occurs in relation to the menstrual cycle. While most women who have this problem report mild to moderate pain, some report severe pain that causes considerable distress, leading them to seek treatment.

Mansel and his colleagues studied the effects of goserelin on breast pain in 147 premenopausal women with mastalgia. The women received a total of 6 injections of goserelin or the same number of sham injections.

A high percentage of women in both the goserelin group (43 percent) and the sham group (55 percent) discontinued therapy, often due to lack of benefit, the investigators report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Still, they say, breast pain scores fell by 67 percent in the goserelin group overall compared with only 35 percent in the sham group.

Six months after the end of treatment, breast pain scores had increased in both groups, but they were still much lower than before treatment.

Goserelin reversibly suppressed levels of female hormones and menstrual periods, the investigators report. Side effects were more common in women receiving goserelin, and included vaginal dryness, hot flushes, oily skin or hair, and decreased interest in sex.

The investigators suggest that goserelin might be useful in premenopausal women with severe breast pain but it should only be used for a short period of time - up to 6 months - because of the drug’s potential to cause bone loss.

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, December 2004.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by David A. Scott, M.D.