Tamoxifen trial should prompt breast cancer patients to reconsider treatment options

December 6, 2012, Loyola University Health System

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

Why some cancers affect only young women

October 19, 2018
Among several forms of pancreatic cancer, one of them specifically affects women, often young. How is this possible, even though the pancreas is an organ with little exposure to sex hormones? This pancreatic cancer, known ...

Scientists to improve cancer treatment effectiveness

October 19, 2018
Together with researchers from the University of Nantes and the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne in France, experts from the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI have recently developed a quantum dot-based microarray ...

Mutant cells colonize our tissues over our lifetime

October 18, 2018
By the time we reach middle age, more than half of the oesophagus in healthy people has been taken over by cells carrying mutations in cancer genes, scientists have uncovered. By studying normal oesophagus tissue, scientists ...

Study involving hundreds of patient samples may reveal new treatment options of leukemia

October 17, 2018
After more than five years and 672 patient samples, an OHSU research team has published the largest cancer dataset of its kind for a form of leukemia. The study, "Functional Genomic Landscape of Acute Myeloid Leukemia", published ...

A 150-year-old drug might improve radiation therapy for cancer

October 17, 2018
A drug first identified 150 years ago and used as a smooth-muscle relaxant might make tumors more sensitive to radiation therapy, according to a recent study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer ...

Loss of protein p53 helps cancer cells multiply in 'unfavourable' conditions

October 17, 2018
Researchers have discovered a novel consequence of loss of the tumour protein p53 that promotes cancer development, according to new findings in eLife.

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.