National Cancer Institute Summarizes Risks, Benefits of Tamoxifen
WebMD News Archive
Mitchell Gaynor, MD, the director of
medical oncology at the Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York,
tells WebMD, "Patients on tamoxifen should see their gynecologist for a
pelvic exam twice a year and a sonogram once a year."
Any thickening of the uterus should be
biopsied. Other symptoms, including "vaginal bleeding, calf tenderness, and
shortness of breath should be reported immediately," says Karen Antman, MD,
the director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center in New
Doctors also say the new NCI assessment
tool is likely to improve patient communication. "Women are confused about
tamoxifen risk, particularly endometrial cancer. We'd all like to have a
perfect drug, but there isn't one. Doctors need to help women understand the
concept of risk and reward because tamoxifen is an excellent option for many
women," says Seymour Cohen, MD. Cohen is an associate clinical professor of
medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, also in New York.
In fact, additional data about the
effectiveness of tamoxifen is still to come. Gail tells WebMD, "The Breast
Cancer Prevention Trial remains in progress, and one important question we hope
to answer is the effectiveness of tamoxifen prevention in women with the breast
cancer gene. ... For now though, a follow-up study with better ethnicity data
is on our agenda."