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Tamoxifen Side Effect: Higher Stroke Risk

Experts Say Small Risk Seen From Five-Year Treatment With Breast Cancer Drug

Newer Drugs, Fewer Side Effects? continued...

Several drugs of another class known as aromatase inhibitors are also now being used for breast cancer prevention. American Cancer Society spokesman Len Lichtenfeld, MD, says it remains to be seen if any of the drugs now under study will emerge as clearly safer and more effective than tamoxifen. Lichtenfeld is deputy chief medical officer for ACS.

"In the scheme of risks and benefits [the stroke risk with tamoxifen] is small when compared, for example, with the risk of breast cancer coming back," he says. "But it still may not be acceptable to some because we are talking about giving this drug to essentially healthy women. This is one factor among many that has to be weighed in making this decision, and I can't stress enough the importance of a patient becoming a partner in that decision by discussing it with her doctor."

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