Tamoxifen and Breast Cancer

dwheeler at teleport.com dwheeler at teleport.com
Tue Sep 15 23:43:21 EST 1998

The following appeared in The Oregonian, September 15, 1998, pA10 BTW,
tamoxifen is derived from Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolius), and is also known
as taxol. Pacific yew is a very slow-growing tree of the Pacific Northwest. A
400-year-old tree may be 12 inches dbh, and contain enough taxol to treat a
single cancer patient.

WASHINGTON -- Daily doses of chemotherapy drug tamoxifen cut in half the
chances that women at high risk of breast cancer would develop tumors during
a five-year study of the drug, researchers formally reported Monday.	  The
findings have made headlines since April, when government doctors announced
preliminary results. But the tamoxifen study appears formally in a medical
journal, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, this week for the
first time.	    In the study, 13,000 women at high risk of getting breast
cancer were given tamoxifen or a dummy pill every day for several years. The
average rate of breast cancer was 22 cases per 1,000 women who took
tamoxifen, vs. 43.4 cases per 1,000 women who took a placebo.	     "This is
a first step in the prevention of breast cancer, a big first step," said Dr.
D. Lawrence Wickerham, one of the tamoxifen researchers.  But the study has
been controversial because tamoxifen also caused serious side effects. It
doubled women's chances of uterine cancer, tripled their chances of a
life-threatening blood clot; and increased the chances of developing
cataracts in their eyes.	 Doctors also don't know if tamoxifen is
truly preventing breast cancer or just delaying its appearnce, and the study
suggests it has no effect on some of the hardest-to-treat cancer, so-called
"estrogen-receptor negative" tumors.   The Food and Drug Administration is
using the study to determine if tamoxifen's use as a cancer-prevention tool
should be approved, and exactly which women should us it.

The above was posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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