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Doubling Time on Tamoxifen Cuts Odds for Breast Cancer's Return: Study
Date:6/2/2013

SUNDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to using the drug tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer's return, longer may be better for some patients, a new study finds.

Women combating estrogen-sensitive breast tumors fared better when treated with 10 years of tamoxifen compared to those given the current standard of five years, researchers found.

However, longer tamoxifen regimens were associated with a greater risk for side effects from the cancer-suppressing drug, such as night sweats, hot flashes, blood clots, strokes and a heightened risk for cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer).

Still, the investigation found that 10 years of treatment gave patients better protection against the recurrence of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancers and/or death than did treatments offered for half as long.

Assessing the findings in conjunction with the results of another recently completed study called the ATLAS trial, the team concluded that the benefits of prolonged therapy still outweigh any risks.

The study was scheduled for presentation Sunday in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Five years of tamoxifen "is already an excellent treatment but we thought that longer treatment might be even better because women with ER-positive breast cancer can have recurrences long after treatment is completed," study lead author Richard Gray, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, said in an ASCO news release.

"Until now, though, there have been doubts whether continuing tamoxifen beyond five years is worthwhile," he added. "This study and its international counterpart ATLAS confirm that there is definitely a survival benefit from longer tamoxifen treatment and many doctors will likely recommend continuing tamoxifen for an extra five years."

The research was funded by Cancer Research UK and th
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