Women using the cancer suppressing drug Tamoxifen for five years after being diagnosed with breast cancer were 40 percent less likely to have the cancer return; a protection which lasted ten years after the subjects stopped taking the drug, according to a recent study conducted by Early Breast Cancer Trialists Collaborative Group.
“It’s a remarkable drug,” said Christina Davies, the study’s author and lead investigator with the group.
The researchers analyzed the results from 20 randomized controlled trials which consisted of 21,000 women from different parts of the world. Half the sample group took the Tamoxifen over the course of five years, and the other half did not take the drug at all.
Women who took the drug had a one-third lower risk of dying after 15 years, in which they stopped taking the drug for the last ten of those years, as opposed to the women who did not use Tamoxifen at all over that time.
“It [Tamoxifen] has probably saved more lives than any other oncological drug ever,” said Davies.
Out of the 10,645 women who took the drug during the trial, only 26 percent of them had a relapse after 10 years as opposed to 40 percent of the women who didn’t use the drug having the cancer return by that point.
After 15 years, only 33 percent of the women taking the drug had a relapse compared to 46 percent of women relapsing not taking Tamoxifen.
Also, after the 10 year period 25 percent of the women who didn’t take the drug died from the cancer with only 18 percent who took the drug dying.
After 15 years, 24 percent of Tamoxifen users died and 33 percent of non-users died concluding that the drug’s suppressing effects lasted 10 years after the women stopped taking them.
“They not only gained the benefits while they were taking the drug, but for many years afterward,” Davies said.
Tamoxifen has been used for the past 30 years to treat all types of breast cancer. Serious side effects include blood clots, strokes and cataracts according to the National Cancer Institute.
But according the Davies, “The benefits greatly outweigh the risks."