What Works for Breast Cancer Survivors

Tamoxifen cuts 15-year recurrence, mortality risks

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) After being successfully treated for breast cancer, a woman still lives with a lingering fear. Will this come back and kill me? One drug reduces the risks of both. Taking Tamoxifen for 5 years reduces breast cancer recurrence and mortality.

In a long-term analysis, researchers have found that tamoxifen reduces the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence (return) and death even after 15 years. Using this medication for five years following original treatment decreased breast cancer-related deaths by about 30 percent for 15 years, compared to women who didn't take the drug.

"Ask your oncologist if Tamoxifen is right for you."

Tamoxifen blocks estrogen and is used as an adjuvant (after treatment) therapy for patients with estrogen positive (ER+) cancers. This therapy is prescribed for five years following treatment for breast cancer, which includes some combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Researchers analyzed individual patient data from 20 different trials. They looked at 10,645 patients with early stage ER+ breast cancer who took tamoxifen for roughly five years following orginal treatment.

Tamoxifen had virtually no effect on the recurrence and mortality risks of women with estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer.

Results from this study were published in The Lancet.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 29, 2011
Last Updated:
July 29, 2011