Few Women Want Drug to Prevent Breast Cancer
Weighing Benefits and Risks of Tamoxifen Is Difficult, They Say
WebMD News Archive
What Mattered Most
More than half of the women said the following benefits and risks were
"very important" in their decision:
- Fighting breast cancer: 69%
- Blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism): 68%
- Uterine cancer: 63% (among those who had not had a hysterectomy)
- Blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis): 58%
About 15% said it would be difficult or very difficult to decide whether to
Cancer prevention drugs "must have few potential adverse effects to
achieve widespread acceptance," the researchers conclude.
Some women said they weren't doing anything special to prevent breast
cancer. But others mentioned
and as well as
exercise and changes in diet (reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine).
Also mentioned was reducing or stopping the use of tobacco.
Overall, the women seemed to weigh their perceived risk factors against
their personal prevention strategies, sizing up their susceptibility before
deciding about tamoxifen, says the study.
Exaggerated Sense of Risk
Another trend also stood out. The women tended to overestimate their breast
cancer risk, sometimes rating it 10 times higher than it actually was.
Women's average self-perceived risk of developing breast cancer in the next
five years was almost 33%. But the calculations by the Breast Cancer Risk
Assessment Program put it at about 3%.
Despite the inflated sense of risk, about 70% described their risk as
"low" or "average."
See a Doctor for Questions
It's important for women to see a doctor about any breast concerns and to
whether or not they think they're at high risk.
Early detection improves a woman's chances of survival. There are more than
2 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., says the American Cancer Society
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women after skin cancer and
the leading cause of women's cancer deaths after lung cancer, says the ACS.