It's official: Femara beats tamoxifen in preventing breast-cancer recurrence. For anyone who has a sister or mother or female friend or colleague battling breast cancer, this is exciting news. A large scale clinical study has shown that patients admininstered Femara showed a 27% reduction in the risk of distant recurrence (metastases) with Femara as compared with tamoxifen. Both of these drugs have been effective in treatment of Estrogen-receptor-positive tumors (tumors that grow in the presence of estrogen).
Femara is a potent member of a new class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors; these drugs almost totally shut down the body's ability to make estrogen. But each drug carries the risk of side effects: Women taking Femara had higher cholesterol and a higher incidence of heart trouble than women taking tamoxifen. (It's not clear whether this is due to a side effect of Femara or a possible protective effect of tamoxifen). But at least there are some more choices for women.