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Tamoxifen Chemoprevention Tied To Early Detection Of Breast Cancer

Posted Oct 14 2008 4:05am

The drug tamoxifen does not prevent or treat estrogen receptor (ER) negative breast cancer, but it can make the disease easier to find, researchers report in the Oct. 1 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Women at high-risk for breast cancer who took tamoxifen as a preventive measure in a clinical trial and later developed ER-negative breast cancer had a median time to first diagnosis of 24 months, compared with 36 months for those who received placebo, according to a retrospective statistical analysis.

While long-term survival has not yet been observed for the trial, that one-year advanced diagnosis is an unexpected and significant finding, said study lead author Yu Shen, Ph.D., professor in The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Department of Biostatistics. “Based on our basic understanding of breast cancer, survival rate is higher when cancer is detected at an earlier stage. Our findings open up a new area of research.”

“It’s a good example of how innovative application of statistical analysis can make a great contribution to better understanding the biological mechanisms of cancer,” Shen said.

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