Study: Raloxifene Prevents Breast Cancer with Fewer Side Effects Than Tamoxifen

By Fabregas, Luis | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

Study: Raloxifene Prevents Breast Cancer with Fewer Side Effects Than Tamoxifen


Fabregas, Luis, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


After watching her sister die from breast cancer, Norma Kreutz worried that she would develop the disease. Breast cancer killed her grandmother, and she thought it was only a matter of time before she would be diagnosed.

Prompted by her gynecologist, Kreutz enrolled in a trial of two drugs used to prevent breast cancer in women at high-risk: raloxifene and tamoxifen. She took raloxifene, a drug used to treat osteoporosis. More than 10 years after she started taking the drug, Kreutz hasn't developed breast cancer.

"To me, the trial was a godsend," said Kreutz, 68, of Mt. Washington. "I really, truly believe that this has helped me."

Doctors at Allegheny General Hospital, which conducted the drug trial with 400 patients, are touting raloxifene's cancer-prevention benefit, after results of a new study. It showed raloxifene is nearly as effective as tamoxifen, long used to help treat breast cancer. Raloxifene is far less toxic, and less likely to cause blood clots or uterine cancer.

That's good news for women at risk of developing breast cancer, a disease that in 2009 accounted for 192,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths in the United States, said Dr. Larry Wickerham, an Allegheny General oncologist who oversaw the study.

"If women know they are at increased risk of breast cancer, they should be asking about this option," said Wickerham, chief of the section of cancer genetics and prevention. "It doesn't mean they need it, but they should ask about it."

The findings are the latest from the so-called STAR trial, which began in 1999 and lasted five years. …

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Study: Raloxifene Prevents Breast Cancer with Fewer Side Effects Than Tamoxifen
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