Tamoxifen trial should prompt breast cancer patients to reconsider treatment options

December 6, 2012

A groundbreaking clinical trial involving the breast cancer drug tamoxifen should prompt certain breast cancer patients to reconsider their treatment options, according to Loyola University Medical Center breast cancer specialist Dr. Kathy Albain.

The trial is called ATLAS (Adjuvant Tamoxifen Longer Against Shorter). It included women with estrogen receptor-positive that had not spread to distant organs. Women who took tamoxifen for 10 years had a lower risk of recurrence and lower mortality rate than women who took the drug for 5 years, which is the current standard of care.

"I think this is going to create a need for women with this type of breast cancer to readdress their ," Albain said.

Dr. Richard Gray, on behalf of the ATLAS trial investigators, announced results Dec. 5 during the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Albain moderated the opening oral session in which the results were announced and discussed.

A worldwide team of investigators enrolled 6,846 women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer who had been taking tamoxifen for five years and were free of recurrence of their breast cancer. Women were randomly assigned to either stop taking tamoxifen, or to continue taking the drug for another five years.

During the second decade following diagnosis, women who continued taking tamoxifen had a 25 percent lower recurrence rate and a 29 percent lower rate, compared with women who stopped after five years. Overall, taking tamoxifen for 10 years cut the risk of dying of breast cancer in half.

Albain noted there are risks to taking tamoxifen, including a higher risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal patients and an increased risk of blood clots. But endometrial cancer generally is curable, and in certain women, the benefits of taking tamoxifen for longer periods may outweigh the risks, Albain said.

Premenopausal women may benefit by taking tamoxifen for 10 years rather than 5 years, Albain said. The picture is more complicated for postmenopausal women. Depending on the patient, a regimen could involve taking for a period of time and an aromatase inhibitor for a period of time.

"Each woman's situation is different, which is why she should consult her doctor on the best course of action in light of these exciting and significant new findings," Albain said.

Explore further: SABCS: Extending tamoxifen to 10 years beneficial in breast CA

Related Stories

SABCS: Extending tamoxifen to 10 years beneficial in breast CA

December 5, 2012
(HealthDay)—For women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive early breast cancer, continuing tamoxifen to 10 years correlates with reduced risk of recurrence and lower breast cancer-specific and overall mortality, according ...

10 years of tamoxifen better than 5, study reports

December 5, 2012
(HealthDay) —Taking the breast cancer drug tamoxifen for a decade, instead of the standard five years, further reduces the long-term chances of recurrence and risk of dying from the disease, new British research suggests.

Drug's lasting benefits sees breast cancer deaths down by third

July 29, 2011
The benefits of using tamoxifen to prevent recurrence of breast cancer after surgery continue to accrue long after women stop taking the drug, a study led by Oxford University has found.

Toxicity of aromatase inhibitors may explain lack of overall survival improvement

August 22, 2011
The toxicities associated with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) may explain the lack of overall survival improvement compared with tamoxifen, according to a study published August 22 in the Journal of The National Cancer Institute.

Recommended for you

New study reveals breast cancer cells recycle their own ammonia waste as fuel

October 19, 2017
Breast cancer cells recycle ammonia, a waste byproduct of cell metabolism, and use it as a source of nitrogen to fuel tumor growth, report scientists from Harvard Medical School in the journal Science.

US regulators approve 2nd gene therapy for blood cancer

October 19, 2017
U.S. regulators on Wednesday approved a second gene therapy for a blood cancer, a one-time, custom-made treatment for aggressive lymphoma in adults.

New findings explain how UV rays trigger skin cancer

October 18, 2017
Melanoma, a cancer of skin pigment cells called melanocytes, will strike an estimated 87,110 people in the U.S. in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A fraction of those melanomas come from ...

Drug yields high response rates for lung cancer patients with harsh mutation

October 18, 2017
A targeted therapy resurrected by the Moon Shots Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has produced unprecedented response rates among patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer that carries ...

Possible new immune therapy target in lung cancer

October 18, 2017
A study from Bern University Hospital in collaboration with the University of Bern shows that so-called perivascular-like cells from lung tumors behave abnormally. They not only inadequately support vascular structures, but ...

Many pelvic tumors in women may have common origin—fallopian tubes

October 17, 2017
Most—and possibly all—ovarian cancers start, not in ovaries, but instead in the fallopian tubes attached to them.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.