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Tamoxifen: Breast Cancer

THE QUESTION Whether to take tamoxifen and whether to undergo chemotherapy are among the decisions made by women with breast cancer. Do the benefits of these treatments outweigh the risks — specifically the possibility of a stroke?

THIS STUDY compared the use of tamoxifen and exposure to chemotherapy by 179 women who had a stroke after they were diagnosed with breast cancer to that of 353 breast cancer survivors of similar age who did not have a stroke. The researchers found no relationship between use of tamoxifen and stroke. They did find that undergoing chemotherapy more than doubled the chances of a stroke.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED BY THESE FINDINGS? Women with breast cancer.

CAVEATS The results do not necessarily apply to women who take tamoxifen as a preventive. Another recent study [Quick Study, Oct. 16] found that tamoxifen use correlated with a slight increase in the risk of stroke

BOTTOM LINE Women diagnosed with breast cancer may want to discuss with their doctors the benefits and risks of tamoxifen and chemotherapy based on their individual situations.

FIND THIS STUDY Oct. 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute; abstract available online at www.jncicancerspectrum.oupjournals.org.

LEARN MORE ABOUT breast cancer treatments at www.cancer.org and www.cancer.gov.

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