Navigation Links
Few Women at High Risk for Breast Cancer Take Tamoxifen

Study finds less than 1% use it as preventative; experts say drug has gotten 'bad rap'

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Only a tiny fraction of women at high risk of developing breast cancer take tamoxifen to prevent the disease.

This news comes despite the fact that experts have known since 1998 that tamoxifen can cut the risk of developing breast cancer by almost 50 percent.

"This is not a surprise to me," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La., which was one of the sites enrolling women for the trial that led to the approval of using tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention.

"The drug is actually a very fine drug for breast cancer prevention, but it has gotten a bad rap," Brooks continued. "I don't think we have changed the paradigm of the fact that we can predict which women are at increased risk for this disease and we can do something to lower their risk short of prophylactic mastectomy, but I don't think the medical profession has been able to communicate well enough to women so that they can understand that taking medicine can lower their risk of cancer."

V. Craig Jordan, scientific director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University, who is considered the "father" of tamoxifen, agreed: "There has been so much negative publicity about tamoxifen. No good information is being provided. That doesn't help."

While people are relatively comfortable with the notion that blood pressure and cholesterol drugs can lower the risk of heart problems in people who feel perfectly healthy, this is still an alien concept in the cancer world, Brooks said.

In addition to being used to treat breast tumors, tamoxifen (Nolvadex) is approved to prevent breast cancer recurrences and to prevent tumors in women who have not yet been diagnosed with the disease.

These authors looked at data from 2000 and 2005 from a large national survey (including about 10,000 women for each year) to estimate how many women were using tamoxifen for primary prevention of breast cancer.

In 2000, only about 0.2 percent of U.S. women aged 40 to 79 took tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer. In 2005, the prevalence was even lower -- only 0.08 percent.

The data did not say specifically how many of the women taking tamoxifen were at high risk for breast tumors, said Andrew N. Freedman, senior author of the paper appearing in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, but "we probably could assume they were high-risk."

The authors could only speculate on why the numbers were so low.

"It may be that patients and their physicians do not think the benefits outweigh the risks. It could be that physicians are not getting education about use of the drug. It could be concerns about side effects or physicians reluctant to prescribe," said Freedman, who is chief of the clinical and translational epidemiology branch of the division of cancer control and population sciences at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

One recent study found that worries about side effects are a major reason why high-risk women are unwilling to take tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen's side effects include hot flashes, endometrial cancer and blood clots. A newer agent, raloxifene (Evista), a sister drug to tamoxifen, might be an alternative for women concerned about the risk of endometrial cancer.

However, tamoxifen works for both invasive and noninvasive breast cancer while raloxifene works only for the former, Brooks said.

Also tamoxifen, said Jordan, "is the only game in town for premenopausal women."

In the end, though, the decision lies with each individual woman.

"I think that the use of tamoxifen for chemoprevention is something that is a very personal choice between the physician and patient, and depends on many, many factors," Freedman said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on tamoxifen.

SOURCES: Andrew N. Freedman, Ph.D., chief, Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.; V. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., D.Sc., scientific director, Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Washington, D.C.; Jay Brooks, M.D., chairman, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Health System, Baton Rouge, La.; February 2010, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Womens Dermatologic Society Marks 35th Anniversary with Release of Unprecedented Book of Wisdom and Inspiration
2. American Heart Association Rapid Access Journal Report: Study Finds Racial Gaps Continue in Heart Disease Awareness, Low Knowledge of Heart Attack Warning Signs Among Women
3. Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga Put Spotlight on Women and HIV
4. Womens Heart Disease Awareness Still Lacking
5. Diabetes drug ups risk for bone fractures in older women
6. Women More Likely to Fail Treatment for Atrial Fibrillation
7. and the LifestyleMom Radio Cafe Aim to Help Women Create a Family Life and "Me Life" That They Truly Love
8. Company Invites Women to STOP PMS - Take the 10-Minute Challenge
9. Women with gout at greater risk of heart attack than men
10. Study finds higher risk of stillbirth in women with fibroids
11. Women Riders to Rev for a Cure at Daytona Bike Week
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... "With 30 hand-drawn hand gesture animations, FCPX users can easily ... of Pixel Film Studios. , ProHand Cartoon’s package transforms over 1,300 hand-drawn pictures ... . Simply select a ProHand generator and drag it above media or text in ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits of moderation, whether it’s a ... the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps even self-loathing. However, those who ... , Research from reveals that behind the tendency to set ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two significant new grants to ... came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing patients, medical professionals and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their ... Award, an essay contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a ... the 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... National recruitment firm ... life sciences executive with extensive sequencing and genomics experience, as Vice President of North ... Ms. Hill will be responsible for leading the sales team in the commercialization of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... Ontario , June 27, 2016  VMS Rehab ... Company,s Board will take whatever measures required to build ... Company,s stock which is currently listed on the OTC ... Wexler, Company Chairman and CEO, "We are seeing an ... difficult to understand, not only by the Company, but ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Global Blood ... biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment ... today announced the closing of its previously announced ... stock, at the public offering price of $18.75 ... offering were offered by GBT. GBT estimates net ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 2016 The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy ... that would allow biopharmaceutical companies to more easily share ... formulary and coverage decisions, a move that addresses the ... The recommendations address restrictions in the sharing ... drug label, a prohibition that hinders decision makers from ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: