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Switch from tamoxifen 'can cut breast cancer death risk'

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A change of treatment can reduce women’s risk of dying from breast cancer, according to new research.

Analysis of long-term follow up data from the Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES) found significant benefits from changing to an aromatase inhibitor called exemestane after two to three years of tamoxifen treatment.

The study, led by Imperial College London’s Clinical Trials Cancer Unit and the Institute of Cancer Research’s Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR-CTSU), was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The IES trial was set up across 37 countries in 1998 and involved women diagnosed with early stage oestrogen receptor-positive (ER+ or hormone sensitive) breast cancer .Those postmenopausal patients who were disease-free after two to three years of adjuvant tamoxifen were randomly assigned to continue tamoxifen or switch to exemestane for the remainder of the five-year period.

The latest study noted there was no significant difference in long-term side-effects between the two groups after a median follow-up of 91 months.

However, women who had been switched to exemestane were found to be 18% less likely to suffer a recurrence of disease.

They were also 14% less likely to have died than those who stayed on tamoxifen.

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