Health Watch: Breast Cancer Increase; "This Work Highlights the Need to Continue Research to Discover New Treatments That Tackle All Aspects of the Disease from Prevention to Treatments and Cures."

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), November 7, 2001 | Go to article overview

Health Watch: Breast Cancer Increase; "This Work Highlights the Need to Continue Research to Discover New Treatments That Tackle All Aspects of the Disease from Prevention to Treatments and Cures."


Breast cancer has become the most common cancer in Britain, overtaking lung cancer for the first time.

Doctors are waging war on the disease in different ways with an emphasis on prevention.

They have been giving healthy but high risk women the drug tamoxifen to prevent them getting the disease. However this strategy could be causing other problems.

Researchers from Ontario, using the results of a large clinical trial, highlight serious side-effects of using the drug in this way. They claim it can cause cancer of the womb and can give women twice the risk of deep vein thrombosis a condition which has killed a number of long-haul airline passengers.

Tamoxifen is a well tried drug used in the treatment of the disease once it has been diagnosed. Currently about 70 per cent of women already diagnosed are using it.

Women have to take it for up to five years after they have been diagnosed. It was felt that using it as a preventative could help those women who have a close family member with the disease.

Dr Lesley Walker of the Cancer Research Campaign says that tamoxifen is a vital part of breast cancer treatment but the research paper suggests that is is not a magic pill which will bring an end to the disease. …

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