Tamoxifen in the News
A surprising number of important studies on the use of tamoxifen to treat breast cancer have recently been published. Here is a sampler ...
Dr. Bernard Fisher of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues involved with the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) have added further credence to the conclusion that tamoxifen has a five-year window of benefit, beyond which no additional gain is apparently realized.
Writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the researchers reported on their study of 1,172 breast cancer patients, all of whom completed five years of tamoxifen therapy. Half of the women then continued receiving tamoxifen for an additional two years, while the other half received a placebo. The researchers found no significant difference in eventual survival between the two groups.
Dr. Lesley Fallowfield of the University of Sussex in Brighton, England and colleagues have concluded that tamoxifen treatment does not interfere with a woman's sexual or psychosocial well-being.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers reported on the results of a questionnaire given to 488 British women at high risk for breast cancer who participated in a clinical trial to determine if taking tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer. Half of the women were given tamoxifen and half a placebo.
They noted that women in the tamoxifen group had more physiological side effects such as vasomotor symptoms and vaginal discharge, but those in the placebo group had more problems with low energy, breast sensitivity and blurring of vision. Nonetheless, the difference side effects experienced by women in both groups had no effect on sexual function according to their questionnaire responses. Women in both groups reported similar sexual activity levels and pleasure from sexual activity.
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Dr. Thomas Buchholz and colleagues from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center suggested that some breast cancer patients who have been treated with lumpectomy and radiation therapy may also benefit from additional tamoxifen therapy and/or chemotherapy.
The researchers reported on their study of 484 node-negative breast cancer patients; 207 were treated with surgery and radiation alone; 149 were given additional treatment with tamoxifen; and 128 received additional chemotherapy with or without tamoxifen.
After a follow-up period of 5+ years, there were 21 local recurrences of the disease in the women who were treated with lumpectomy and radiation, compared to only 8 local recurrences in the groups of women given additional systemic treatment with tamoxifen and/or chemotherapy. No regional recurrences were detected in any of the women in the study.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute, May 2, 2001; 93:684-690
Journal of Clinical Oncology, April 1, 2001; 19:1885-1892
Journal of Clinical Oncology, April 15, 2001; 19:2240-2246
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