A new breast cancer study indicates that prolonging the use of the drug tamoxifen could prevent the return of the disease and save lives. Currently tamoxifen is prescribed for five years. Breast cancer researchers suggest upping the regime to 10 years, according to ABC News.
Tamoxifen and hormone therapy drugs have reportedly reduced the risk of cancer coming back in three quarters of breast cancer patients who are estrogen receptor (ER) positive. The test data was compiled from a large trial and released this week on The Lancet, a medical journal. The Adjuvant Tamoxifen: Longer Against Shorter, or ATLAS clinical trial began in 1996.
The breast cancer study is reportedly the largest such trial and involved more than 12,000 women in the early stages of the disease. Earlier studies did not show a “clear benefit” of being on a tamoxifen regimen for a duration longer than five years.
Breast cancer research trail author Dr. Christina Davies has this to say about the study:
“Five years of adjuvant tamoxifen is already an excellent treatment that substantially reduces the 15-year risk for recurrence and death. We now know that 10 years of tamoxifen is even better, approximately halving breast cancer mortality during the second decade after diagnosis.”
During the ATLAS study, a total of 6,846 women with ER positive breast cancer and had been on a tamoxifen regimen for five years were asked to either stop or continue taking the medication. Clinical trial participants were followed throughout the years of the study to document serious side effects, cancer recurrence, or death. A total of 56 fewer women reportedly died of breast cancer in the group that took tamoxifen longer. The study found a 2.8 percent reduction in the cancer mortality rate at the conclusion of the trial.