Women at high risk of breast cancer should consider 2 drugs

Experts: Woman at high risk of breast cancer should consider two drugs.
More than 40,000 people lined the streets of St. Louis walking in the Koman Race for the Cure on June 15, 2013. Officials say attendance was down from the 2012 walk. The 15th annual Komen St. Louis Race for the Cure was held to raise money for the local fight against breast cancer, celebrate breast cancer survivorship, and honor those who have lost their battle with the disease.Women with a higher-than-usual risk for breast cancer should consider taking tamoxifen or the osteoporosis drug raloxifene, a panel of U.S. experts advises.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said the drugs, which can raise a woman’s risk of developing blood clots, are not for everyone, but only those with elevated risk of developing breast cancer in the next five years, calculated at 3 percent by one of two reliable breast cancer risk calculators, the Los Angeles Times reported.

However, in some cases, a woman’s personal or family history of stroke or blood clots might outweigh the possible benefits of the breast cancer prevention drugs, the panel said.

The task force said past research suggests having a five-year risk of developing breast cancer that was 1.66 percent or greater was sufficient to justify the use of chemoprevention such as tamoxifen, but the task force suggested given the potential harm both medications can cause, the women who would most clearly benefit the most were those with a five-year breast-cancer probability of 3 percent or higher.

The National Cancer Institute estimates about 1-in-8 women born today, or 12.4 percent, would develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, but other factors influence a woman’s risk, including age, the age at which she began menstruating, whether she has a sister or mother with breast cancer and breast density. These factors are used in the two calculators that can guide a woman’s decision-making: or

February 16, 2014 |

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