The study, which will be published March 22, 2004 in the online edition of CANCER, is the largest to date to review use of the drug in risk-eligible women.
"The study shows that doctors tend to offer tamoxifen to women who will reap the greatest benefit from the drug due to risk caused by certain types of benign breast disease and to those at lower risk of severe side effects. That makes sense," explains Monica Morrow, M.D., the study's lead author and director of breast surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "What doesn't make sense is that women significantly less likely to have side effects, such as premenopausal women and those without a uterus, did not accept tamoxifen more frequently than other groups." Dr. Morrow is also a professor of surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.
"There clearly is a lot of confusion among women about the risks and benefits of tamoxifen chemoprevention," continues Dr. Morrow. "Our findings indicate a great deal of misunderstanding about tamoxifen's risks and benefits among women, probably due to all the negative press it has gotten over the years. They also indicate that we need better educational strategies to help women make this decision."
Study researchers analyzed data from 219 women with increased breast cancer risk to identify clinical factors that would predict its use. Overall, only 63 percent of the women were offered tamoxifen and only 26 percent accepted. The authors concl
Contact: Patty Keiler
Northwestern Memorial Hospital