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Treating high-risk women with tamoxifen may reduce prevalence of breast cancer

Category: Breast

For women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer due to family history diet or health status, taking tamoxifen could significantly reduce their chances of receiving a positive breast cancer test, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer.

The use of tamoxifen has generated significant controversy in recent years. It has been shown in some clinical trials to prevent the development of breast cancer in some women. However, it has also been proven to carry a risk of certain side effects, including pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, endometrial cancer and cataracts.

Yet, after simulating the effects of the drug using a mathematical model to represent women with various levels of risk, the researchers found that tamoxifen reduces the prevalence of tumors in those who are at an elevated risk. This benefit outweighed any side effects, the team said.

"In this group of women, using tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer saves lives and has a low frequency of side effects," said Dr. Peter Alperin, who led the study. "Specifically, chemoprevention with tamoxifen prevents 29 breast cancer cases and 9 breast cancer deaths per 1,000 women treated, and it saves $47,580 per 1,000 women treated in the United States." 

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