Study finds that well below 1 percent of women were taking tamoxifen in 2000 and 2005

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Monday, February 8, 2010 (Last Updated: 02/09/2010)

MONDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Well below 1 percent of American women without a personal history of breast cancer have been taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer in the past decade, according to a report in the February issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Erika A. Waters, Ph.D., and colleagues from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., analyzed data from the National Health Interview Surveys in 2000 and 2005 to determine the prevalence of self-reported tamoxifen use for the primary prevention of breast cancer. The surveys included more than 10,000 women 40 to 79 years old for each year.

The researchers found that the prevalence of tamoxifen use among women without a personal history of breast cancer was very low, at only about 0.2 percent in 2000 and only about 0.08 percent in 2005. They note that the low numbers could be due to reasons such as physician reluctance to prescribe tamoxifen, patient reluctance to take the drug, a belief that the benefit does not outweigh the risk, and concerns about the increased risk of endometrial cancer.

"The prevalence of tamoxifen use for primary prevention of breast cancer was very low in the years 2000 and 2005," Waters and colleagues conclude. "For each individual woman, the benefits of chemoprevention breast cancer treatment must be weighed carefully against its risks and decision making should incorporate the many medical, psychosocial, and personal factors that are unique to that woman."

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Specialties Oncology
Family Practice
OBGYN & Women's Health

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