Breast cancer patients who are treated with tamoxifen have an improved chance of surviving for more than 10 years after starting the treatment, research suggests.
The study monitored long-term survival rates among more than 20,000 women with breast cancer.
Giving patients an early course of tamoxifen reduced their risk of dying by a third over a 15-year period and “substantially reduced” death rates well beyond 10 years, the findings showed.
Tamoxifen treats hormone sensitive (ER-positive) cancers by binding to molecular receptors on the tumour to prevent oestrogen stimulating growth.
The latest findings suggest that in many cases, the treatment may prevent the recurrence of breast cancer after several years.
Dr Christina Davies, a member of the international research team from Oxford University, said: “This study now shows that tamoxifen produces really long-term protection.
“For ER-positive disease, tamoxifen reduces 15-year breast cancer mortality by at least a third, whether or not chemotherapy has been given.”
- Relevance of breast cancer hormone receptors and other factors to the efficacy of adjuvant tamoxifen: patient-level meta-analysis of randomised trials. The Lancet 2011; Advance online publication