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Longer breast cancer therapy yields better results

Researchers say that breast cancer survivors have better odds at living longer and fewer recurrences on 10 years of tamoxifen therapy instead of five.

White pills

Breast cancer survivors who take tamoxifen for a decade can lower the risk of dying from estrogen receptor positive breast cancer by 50 percent, according to researchers from Cancer Research UK.

About three-fourths of all breast cancers are the estrogen receptor positive type, and those patients can benefit from hormone therapy.

Dr. Daniel Rea, the lead researcher, cited the “aTTom” study, which found that estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients who took tamoxifen for more than five years were less likely to experience a recurrence or die from the disease. Tamoxifen therapy is currently recommended for five years.

Rea noted that 25 percent of the patients on tamoxifen for 10 years had fewer recurrences than those who took the drug for five years. He also said there were 23 percent fewer deaths among survivors who took the drug for 10 years.

“These results are important as they establish that giving tamoxifen for longer than the current standard of five years significantly cuts the risk of breast cancer returning. Doctors are now likely to recommend continuing tamoxifen for an extra five years, and this will result in many fewer breast cancer recurrences and breast cancer deaths worldwide,” Rea said.

“Tamoxifen is cheap and widely available, so this could have an immediate impact,” he added.

The team presented the research recently at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago.

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