Is there a pill that prevents breast cancer?
In a large study that ended in 1998, the drug tamoxifen was shown to be effective in preventing breast cancer in women at increased risk of the disease. The breast cancer risk of the women who took tamoxifen was 49 percent lower than the risk of those who did not take the drug. As a result of this study, women at increased risk for breast cancer may consider taking tamoxifen to prevent the disease.
Tamoxifen has been used for more than 20 years to
treat patients with advanced breast cancer. The drug
works against the effects of the hormone estrogen, which
promotes the growth of breast cancer cells.
However, there are risks associated with tamoxifen as
well. Some are even life threatening. A women
considering tamoxifen should carefully discuss the
benefits and risks with her doctor.
In a current study, tamoxifen is being compared to
raloxifene, a drug that is used to treat osteoporosis
(weakening of the bones). Called STAR (Study of
Tamoxifen and Raloxifene), this study will find out if
raloxifene is more or less effective at preventing
breast cancer than tamoxifen. Researchers also will
compare the side effects of the two drugs.
STAR will involve about 22,000 postmenopausal women
who are at least 35 years old and at increased risk of
breast cancer. Women may enroll at various sites across
the country. For more information about STAR, call the
Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or go to
type STAR in the search box.
Source: "Ask the CIS" by the Cancer Information
Service. "Ask the CIS" is distributed by the Cancer
Information Service (CIS) of the Heartland, which
serves Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri & Illinois. The
CIS is a program of the National Cancer Institute.
Call the CIS toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER
(1-800-422-6237) between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. local
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Last update: Wednesday, November 26, 2008