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Breast cancer treatment should double

6th December 2012

Researchers say breast cancer sufferers should be treated with tamoxifen for twice as long as at present.

breastcancer

Scientists from Oxford University suggest 10 years’ treatment could stop the return of breast cancer for many more women than the current recommendation for five years.

And not only does it cut the risk of the cancer returning, it also reduces deaths.

Researchers led by Dr Christina Davies from the university examined the effect of sustained tamoxifen on the likelihood that cancer would return, focusing on 6,847 women with the ER-positive version of the disease.

Half were given tamoxifen for the standard five-year period, and half continued with the drug for a decade.

The results found that cancer returned in 25% of the women given tamoxifen for five years, falling to 21.4% in those given the drug for 10 years.

Deaths fell from 15% over five years to 12% for those who received tamoxifen for the 10 years.

The authors said: “Good evidence now exists that 10 years of tamoxifen in ER-positive breast cancer produces substantial reductions in rates of recurrence and in breast cancer mortality not only during the first decade, while treatment continues, but also during the second decade, long after it has ended.”

While the drug does have side effects, they said the benefits outweighed the risk.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer said the findings, published in The Lancet, were “great news for women with this type of breast cancer” while Cancer Research UK said they added “further clarity to the question about the length of time women should take tamoxifen.”

 

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