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Tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer in high risk women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Tamoxifen could prevent breast cancer

A new study concludes tamoxifen could save lives by preventing breast cancer in certain women at high risk for developing the disease. Researchers also suggest tamoxifen used to prevent breast cancer would reduce medical costs associated with breast cancer, compensating for any side effects associated with taking the drug.

Tamoxifen benefits for preventing breast cancer found using computer model

Investigators at Archimedes Inc. in San Francisco used a computer model to find what group of women might benefit from taking tamoxifen to prevent cancer. The drug is used after cancer treatment to prevent recurrence.

Side effects of the medication that include pulmonary embolism, DVT, endometrial cancer and early menopause and hot flashes make it difficult to pinpoint whether the medication has more benefit than side effects.

The computer model simulated a clinical trial among women under age 55 in 4 virtual randomized controlled studies, evaluating the effect tamoxifen would have on the risk of women developing breast cancer over the next 10 years.

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The findings suggested the benefits of tamoxifen outweighed side effects for women under age 55 whose risk of breast cancer was 1.66 percent or higher over a five year period.

Peter Alperin, MD who headed the study said, "Specifically, chemoprevention with tamoxifen prevents 29 breast cancer cases and 9 breast cancer deaths per 1,000 women treated, and it saves $47,580 per 1,000 women treated in the United States."

The findings, published online in the journal Cancer, shows the value of using computational models to evaluate health outcomes and cost effectiveness of prevention.

The result of the current analysis suggests tamoxifen could help prevent breast cancer for women at high risk who are exploring options for reducing their risk of developing the disease.

"Cost-effectiveness of chemoprevention of breast cancer using tamoxifen in a postmenopausal US population"
Joyce Noah-Vanhoucke, Linda E. Green, Tuan A. Dinh, Peter Alperin and Robert A. Smith