Tamoxifen alone may adequately control breast cancer, avoiding side effects
Older women treated with tamoxifen after removal of early-stage breast cancer by lumpectomy may safely be able to avoid radiation therapy and its unpleasant side effects. In the Sept. 2 New England Journal of Medicine, investigators from several major cancer research groups report that adding radiation to post-surgical tamoxifen treatment of women age 70 or older does not improve survival, has minimal impact on the risk of local tumor recurrence and does not prevent the need for eventual mastectomy. “If a patient does not need to have radiation therapy, her quality of life can improve significantly,” says Kevin Hughes, MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center, who led the study. “By showing that radiation therapy has very little impact on outcome for these patients, we can help each woman and her physician decide on the right treatment.”
Many breast cancers depend on the hormone estrogen to grow. So tamoxifen, which blocks the interaction between estrogen and its receptor protein, is used to treatment tumors that have that protein on the surface of their cells. Most older breast cancer patients have receptor-positive tumors and receive tamoxifen, a medication that has few side effects.
Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
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