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Decision to take tamoxifen difficult for many women

Alexandria, VA--Many women at high risk for breast cancer are foregoing tamoxifen, the first FDA-approved drug for prevention of breast cancer, due to concerns about side effects, increased risk of other cancers, and lack of information, a new study by researchers in Boston shows. The study will be published December 14 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

"While the availability of tamoxifen is a significant advance in breast cancer prevention, it also presents a complicated decision for women at high risk for the disease," said Sharon Bober, PhD, Clinical Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Staff Psychologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and lead author of the study. "Our study underscores the need to address psychological factors that may influence decision-making, in order to help women feel confident and satisfied with their treatment choice."

Tamoxifen has been shown to reduce risk of invasive and non-invasive breast cancer by almost 50 percent. However, tamoxifen also increases the risk of endometrial cancer, blood clots, cataracts, and more severe menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center evaluated health-related and psychological factors involved in decision-making among 129 women eligible to receive tamoxifen (women with a five-year risk of developing cancer of 1.7% or greater). Women received counseling from physicians about potential risks and benefits of tamoxifen therapy, and were asked to complete questionnaires assessing demographics, personal and family health history, and emotional factors, including level of distress, anxiety about breast cancer, and optimism about the potential outcome of treatment. Post-menopausal women in the study were given the option of taking tamoxifen or enrolling in the STAR trial, a randomized study comparing five years of tamoxifen and ralo
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Contact: Danielle Potuto
potutod@asco.org
703-519-1422
American Society of Clinical Oncology
14-Dec-2004


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9. New study highlights misunderstanding surrounding risks and benefits of tamoxifen
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11. Protein that predicts tamoxifen resistance is identified

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