HOUSTON About half of male breast cancer patients who take the drug tamoxifen to prevent their disease from returning report side effects such as weight gain and sexual dysfunction, which prompts more than 20 percent of them to discontinue treatment, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The study, which is the largest to date of how the estrogen-blocking drug is tolerated in men with breast cancer, was published today in the journal Annals of Oncology.
"While tamoxifen is effective in treating breast cancer in men, little is known about its toxicity," said Sharon Giordano, M.D., associate professor of medicine in MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology and senior author of the study. "This research will help doctors and patients better understand the side effects men experience. With this information, patients can make more informed decisions about treatment risks and benefits."
Few Empirical Studies of Rare Disease
Only about 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year, but its incidence is increasing. Since the disease is so rare, little published evidence exists to guide treatment decisions, and most are based on what works in women. There is limited data about the toxicity of anti-hormonal treatments in men.
Male breast cancers are almost always hormone-receptor positive. Tamoxifen blocks the growth-promoting action of estrogen on cancer cells, and it usually is prescribed to men after surgery.
MD Anderson is one of the nation's most active centers for treatment of male breast cancer. As a fellow working with Giordano, lead author Naveen Pemmaraju, M.D., now an assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Leukemia, saw a number of these patients.
"I was struck by how rare the disease is and how little published literature there is about it," he said. "I noticed many of these men were stop
|Contact: Laura Sussman|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center