News Release

September 29, 2011

CONTACT: Gregory Richter

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Penn Medicine Researcher Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Study Role of Estrogen Deprivation In Joint Pain During Cancer Treatment

Jun Mao, MD, MSCE assistant professor of Family Medicine and Community Health in the Perelman School of Medicine, and director of Integrative Medicine, recently received a 1.5 million dollar National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant to study the way in which genetic variations in estrogen synthesis affect women with breast cancer who are taking aromatase inhibitors, which are typically used to prevent recurrence. The drugs help post-menopausal women to further suppress their body's production of estrogen.

Although aromatase inhibitors have improved breast cancer survival rates, they often can decrease a patient's quality of life because of severe joint pain side effects, leading some some patients to stop using them too soon. The new study aims to help the medical community understand aspects of this painful condition so new diagnoses and treatments can be developed. For example, knowing a patient's genotype may predict patients who are at risk of these side effects, and clinicians may offer more personalized early interventions for effective pain management.