Ten Years, Not Five, of Tamoxifen Saves Lives from Breast Cancer

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Now we know it’s ten, not five. For women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, recommendations have changed in the last year regarding tamoxifen. Women who are not candidates for aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole (Arimidex) and letrozole (Femara) take the daily pill tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer recurrence. This year the recommendation changed for the duration of tamoxifen for breast cancer, and it’s longer.

Tamoxifen for 10 years rather than 5 helps save lives from breast cancer. Two trials have addressed outcomes with extending the course of adjuvant therapy with tamoxifen to 10 years for women with breast cancer. Taken together, these data confirm that for women with hormone receptor positive breast cancer, tamoxifen for 10 years rather than 5 years helps, especially if you have relatively poor prognostic breast cancer (node involvement, large tumor size, or high tumor grade).

Women who took daily tamoxifen for 10 years had a significantly lower risk of recurrence and risk of death compared to women who took tamoxifen for 5 years. That, my friends, is a no-brainer, and lucky for you it’s generic and cheap.

Dr O.

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