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At-risk women unlikely to take tamoxifen

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Women at high risk for breast cancer, even if well-informed about the cancer-preventing drug tamoxifen, are unlikely to take the drug, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Angela Fagerlin of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center said the university created a decision aid designed to inform women about the risks and benefits of tamoxifen, a drug first used to stop breast cancer from returning and now shown to prevent breast cancer.

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The University of Michigan decision aid was tailored to each woman's health history in the study of 632 women. The study targeted women who were at high risk of developing breast cancer within the next five years.

The study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, found after viewing the decision aid, 29 percent of women said they were likely to seek out more information and 29 percent said they would ask their doctor. Six percent of women said they were likely to take tamoxifen.

"Experts have bemoaned the dearth of women taking these pills, worried that word has not gotten out about tamoxifen's ability to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women," Dr. Peter Ubel, the lead author, said in a statement. "Our study shows that even when the word does get out, most women are too concerned about the pill's side effects to want to take it."

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About 80 percent of the participants said the side effects -- hot flashes, sexual problems, as well as rare incidences of endometrial cancer, blood clots or cataracts -- were their biggest concern.

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