A paper recently published in Lancet Oncology (Cuzick et al., Epub 28 Mar 2011) recommended that all women with a four percent or higher risk of developing breast cancer in the next ten years should be offered a preventative drug. Like any primary prevention scenario, balancing the risks versus the benefits of preventative treatment is important. For example, for every 1000 women treated with tamoxifen, the authors calculated that there would be 20 fewer breast cancers, but three more cases of endometrial cancer (well within the risk-benefit ratio) and six more cases of deep vein thrombosis. The authors suggested that the development of novel drugs with improved benefits and minimal toxicities, such as aromatase inhibitors, may eventually lead to half of all post-menopausal women being offered preventative treatment.
Treating breast cancer before it occurs….
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