Natasha Tiffany, MD: Aromatase Inhibitors for Treating Early-Stage Breast Cancer

A cum laude graduate of Oregon Health and Science University, Natasha Tiffany, M.D., practices with Hematology Oncology of Salem. She has a professional interest in breast cancer therapy and prescribes aromatase inhibitors such as anastrozole and letrozole in treating certain patients. A newer type of medication, aromatase inhibitors are used by postmenopausal women to halt harmful estrogen production by the aromatase enzyme.

Without the inhibitor, aromatase turns androgen into small amounts of estrogen, which in turn stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells that are hormone-receptor-positive. This treatment approach is distinct from drugs such as raloxifene and tamoxifen, which work by blocking the estrogen receptors. Several studies have compared aromatase inhibitors and tamoxifen. Breastcancer.org notes that aromatase inhibitors typically are recommended as the best hormonal treatment to begin with, particularly among early-stage breast cancer patients who have undergone surgery (and in some cases radiation therapy and chemotherapy). The reason is that aromatase inhibitors appear to have fewer serious side effects, and more benefits overall, than their tamoxifen counterparts.