Should breast cancer survivors double the length of time they take tamoxifen for only a potentially small chance of avoiding recurrence?
As reported by the New York Times, here are the results from the Tamoxifen study:
… In the group assigned to take tamoxifen for 10 years, 21.4 percent had a recurrence of breast cancer in the ensuing 10 years, meaning the period 5 to 14 years after their diagnoses. The recurrence rate for those who took only five years of tamoxifen was 25.1 percent.
About 12.2 percent of those in the 10-year treatment group died from breast cancer, compared with 15 percent for those in the control group…
“The treatment effect is real, but it’s modest,” said Dr. Paul E. Goss, director of breast cancer research at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
But is the effect real? The reported treatment differences are quite small.