Women at high risk for developing
breast cancer who take tamoxifen
can reduce their long-term risk of
developing the disease, according to
the results of a recent study.
Researchers found that women who
took the drug for up to 5 years were
~43% less likely to get breast cancer
than those who took a placebo.
The study, which was funded by
the National Cancer Institute, involved
13,388 women. The women
either were aged >60 years or were
between the ages of 35 and 59 years
and at high risk (ie, having an immediate
relative with breast cancer). They
were divided into 2 groups. Of the
women who took tamoxifen, only 145
developed breast cancer since the
start of the study, compared with 250
women in the placebo group.
Although a number of medicines
exist that help to fight breast cancer
once it has developed, only tamoxifen
has US approval to help prevent it in
high-risk women. The data also
showed that women taking the drug
experienced fewer broken bones
than those taking the placebo80
women compared with 116, respectively
(Journal of the National Cancer
Institute, November 15, 2005).