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High-risk women reluctant to take tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer, U-M study finds
Date:12/2/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Even when women at high-risk of breast cancer are well-informed about the risks and benefits of using the drug tamoxifen for prevention, only 6 percent said they were likely to take it.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center created a decision aid designed to inform women about the risks and benefits associated with tamoxifen, a drug that was first used to stop breast cancer from returning and has recently been shown to prevent breast cancer in the first place.

The U-M decision aid gave objective information about tamoxifen and was tailored to each woman's health history. The study targeted women who were at high risk of developing breast cancer within the next five years; 632 women participated.

"Tailored information is critical because the risks and benefits vary across women. This is one of the most detailed tailored decision aids to address breast cancer prevention. The information about the risks and benefits of tamoxifen was tailored to each woman's health history. That means, when women read this decision aid, they learned about how the drug was likely to affect them given their age, race, breast cancer history and medical history," says lead author Angela Fagerlin, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and a research investigator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

After viewing the decision aid, 41 percent of women could correctly answer six questions about the risks and benefits of tamoxifen, while 63 percent correctly answered at least five of the six questions.

Despite this understanding, only 29 percent of women said they were likely to seek out more information about tamoxifen, and only 29 percent said they would ask their doctor about it. A scant 6 percent of women said they were likely to take tamoxifen.

Three months later, the researchers found that fewer than 1 percent of participants had started taking
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Contact: Nicole Fawcett
nfawcett@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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