Should women take 10 years of tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer recurrence?

At this year's San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, a long-term study of tamoxifen was announced. This study, called ATLAS, looked at women who took more than five years of tamoxifen after breast cancer. There has been a lot of interest in whether more than five years of tamoxifen is beneficial in reducing the risk of recurrence or breast cancer death and this study helped answer that question.

It showed that there is a 3 percent drop in mortality rate and about a 3-4 percent drop in recurrence rate. And it didn't become apparent until 10 years after randomization. It's a delayed effect.

But this is good news. It means we do have another tool for longer-term therapy that can further lower the risk of recurrence, but it mostly pertains to women who are still premenopausal (otherwise we would use a new class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors).

So, now when women hit the five-year mark of tamoxifen, they should check with their doctors to see if more hormonal therapy might be indicated in their case.

Watch Dr. Tripathy's full opinion about the ATLAS study below.

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