Raloxifene and Tamoxifen Can Reduce the Chance of Breast Cancer

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • For years, women who were at high-risk for developing invasive breast cancer, or already had the disease and were trying to prevent a recurrence, had a choice between taking tamoxifen or the osteoporosis drug raloxifene, sold under the brand name Evista. Both drugs work by suppressing the hormone estrogen on breast tissue. About 500,000 women already take Evista to reduce the risk of bone-thinning.

    Now, a new study of 200,000 postmenopausal women at high-risk for getting breast cancer has found that raloxifene reduces the chances of breast cancer as well as tamoxifen, but with fewer side effects, such as blood clots and uterine cancer.
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    The good news is that women now have more choices. Eli Lilly and Co., manufacturer of Evista, plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve Evista for breast cancer prevention in post-menopausal women, but doctors are free to prescribe it now, and many already do. Not all the experts agree on that these findings mean that raloxifene is significantly better than tamoxifen.

    I’m all for more choice and fewer side effects. As someone who took tamoxifen for the prescribed course of five years, I know you have to be vigilant about checking for side effects such as uterine cancer. But even with the risks associated with it, it is a really effective drug. Taking any drug, is of course, a trade-off because most of the time drugs have annoying side effects. And while raloxifene may in the long run prove to be more effective at preventing breast cancer and recurrences than tamoxifen, taking any drug for any reason brings some risk of side effects.

Published On: April 18, 2006