New Breast Cancer Study Indicates Low Dose Tamoxifen Is Better Tolerated and May Be Just As Effective As Standard Dose
“A VERY LOW DOSE of tamoxifen—5 mg/d, given for 3 years rather than 5 years—halved the risk of breast cancer recurrence or new lesions over placebo in women with breast intraepithelial neoplasia, without producing the usual toxicities seen with the standard dose.”
This is good news for women currently taking Tamoxifen, but what is Tamoxifen and why do women take it?
Tamoxifen is a hormonal therapy drug, which is prescribed for the following reasons;
1. To treat breast cancer
2. To reduce the risk of breast cancer coming back
3. To protect the other breast.
Although Tamoxifen is effective in preventing breast cancer recurrence, its common side effects include; menopausal symptoms, vaginal effects, change in periods, loss of sex drive, nausea, tiredness, skin changes, and deep vein thrombosis. The side effects can create barriers for its use as a preventive measure and can lead to some patients being taken off the drug.
So what does a lower dose mean?
The study was set up to see if a lower dosage would have the same positive effect as the standard dosage, which is currently 20mg/d over a 5 year period and whether a lower dosage would reduce the side effects associated with the drug. In the study, they reduced the dosage to 5mg/d over a 3 year period and it was found to be as effective as the standard dosage and also better tolerated.
John Cole, MD, of the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans said; “This information tells me I can perhaps cut back on the dose for patients who are not tolerating tamoxifen. This would help me keep them on the dose, rather than have them abandon therapy,”
“We believe our results have external validity and—given their pragmatic nature and the easy accessibility of tamoxifen—are generalizable,” said Andrea De Censi, MD, of the National Hospital E.O. Ospedali Galliera–Division of Medical Oncology in Genoa, Italy. “Tamoxifen, 5 mg a day (splitting the tablet) or 10 mg every other day, is applicable in clinical practice tomorrow.”