A peer-review study by the American Association for Cancer Research as well as the American Society of Preventive Oncology examined the connection between H2 antihistamine-blockers, Zantac and breast cancer. The study determined that an increased risk of one type of breast cancer exists in people who have taken the medication Zantac. As an H2 blocker (or histamine H2-receptor antagonist), Zantac was once widely used as both an over-the-counter and prescription medication to treat duodenal and gastric ulcers as well as to decrease the chances of their return. The medication was also used to treat acid indigestion and heartburn. In April 2020, however, the Food and Drug Administration requested that the makers of Zantac recall the product due to health concerns.
The History of Zantac and Breast Cancer Lawsuits
Several lawsuits have already been filed against the drug’s manufacturers by people who were diagnosed with breast cancer after taking Zantac. One lawsuit involved a South Florida resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 after routinely using Zantac since 2009. The lawsuit became part of multidistrict litigation that claimed Zantac use caused breast cancer because the victim otherwise was at low risk for being diagnosed with cancer. While the survival rate associated with many types of breast cancer has risen noticeably over the last few decades, the physical, emotional, and financial toll that the illness takes on a person is still substantial. For this reason, Zantac lawsuits seek obtain compensation for the various costs incurred by victims.
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The Content of the Study
The study failed to find a causal relationship between Zantac’s active ingredient, ranitidine, and breast cancer. The study did, however, suggest that people who regularly use medications containing ranitidine have an increased risk of ductal carcinoma. More specifically, the study found that the current use of ranitidine increases a person’s chances of hormone receptor-positive ductal carcinoma. This is because ranitidine raises the levels of the hormone prolactin in a person’s system. Scientists believe that prolactin increases the chance of tumors in a person’s system. The study concluded that women between the ages of 55 to 79 who use H2 blockers like ranitidine suffered from ductal carcinoma as compared to women of the same age who did not use the medication.
Understanding Ductal Carcinoma
The word ‘ductal’ means that cancer originates inside the milk ducts, while carcinoma refers to any type of cancer that originates either in the skin or other tissue that covers or lines the organs. Ductal carcinoma is considered “non-invasive” by medical professionals because it does not spread beyond the milk duct into surrounding breast tissue. While ductal carcinoma is not often life-threatening, the illness can substantially increase a person’s chances of developing an invasive form of breast cancer later on in life. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 60,000 cases of ductal carcinoma are diagnosed each year in the United States, which represents one out of every five new breast cancer cases.
Symptoms Associated with Ductal Carcinoma
Most times, ductal carcinoma does not have any accompanying symptoms. Those who do notice symptoms discover small lumps in the breast and/or discharge coming from the nipple. The absence of signs of the illness means that it is a good idea for people who have taken Zantac to receive a medical screening as well as to discuss concerns with their doctor.
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Diagnosis of Ductal Carcinoma
The diagnosis of ductal carcinoma often involves a combination of several procedures, which include:
- Physical examination of the breasts to look for lumps
- Mammograms, which depict cancer cells located inside the milk duct as either a shadow or white specks
- Biopsies, which include either a core needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration biopsy and focus on removing a small portion of breast tissue so it can be examined under a microscope. Following a biopsy, a person will often be informed about not only the type and grade of the carcinoma but also their hormone-receptor status.
How Ductal Carcinoma is Graded
Stages in cancer refer to the extent to which the illness has spread beyond its origination point. All ductal carcinoma is classified as stage 0 breast cancer. While ductal carcinoma is always classified as stage 0, it can be any size and located in any number of breast areas. During the microscopic examination part of a biopsy, a medical professional will categorize a person’s cells into one of the following categories:
- Normal cells
- Ductal hyperplasia, which refers to an overgrowth of cells
- Atypical ductal hyperplasia, which occurs when there are too many cells that are beginning to appear abnormal
- Ductal carcinoma in situ, which occurs when there are too many cells that have cancer features but which are confined to inside the milk duct.
- Ductal carcinoma in situ with microinvasion, which means that several cancer cells have begun to break through the milk ducts wall. This cancer is classified as stage 1.
- Invasive ductal cancer, which means that cancer cells have broken past the breast duct. This cancer is no longer referred to ductal carcinoma in situ but is instead classified as invasive ductal carcinoma. Invasive ductal cancer ranges from stages one to four.
Treatment for Ductal Carcinoma in Situ
Some of the standard treatments for ductal carcinoma in situ include:
- Lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy is the most common type of treatment for the condition. Other times, lumpectomy alone might be performed.
- Mastectomy, which involves the removal of the breast is sometimes necessary
- Hormonal therapy after surgery is sometimes used to either block or lower the amount of estrogen in the body
- Chemotherapy is often not necessary because this treatment disperses anti-cancer medications throughout the body
Speak with a Knowledgeable Defective Product Attorney
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with breast cancer after taking Zantac, it can help to speak with a knowledgeable defective drug attorney in Long Island. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe LLP today to schedule a free case evaluation. 516-358-6900.