Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Breast Cancer Drugs Top Tamoxifen

Patients on Aromatase Inhibitors Live Longer, Study Shows

Tamoxifen Still Needed

Daniel Hayes, MD, who directs the breast cancer program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, says the evidence has long pointed to a modest survival benefit for advanced breast cancer patients taking aromatase inhibitors.

He adds that there is increasingly strong evidence the newer drugs are also more effective than tamoxifen in patients with less advanced disease.

But that doesn't mean tamoxifen no longer has a place in breast cancer treatment, he tells WebMD.

Individual patients may still respond better to tamoxifen or they may experience fewer side effects on the older hormone therapies, he says. And it may be that patients whose cancers progress while they are taking aromatase inhibitors can benefit from switching to tamoxifen.

"These are all unanswered questions at this point," Hayes says. "We may be able to individualize treatment with these two drugs in the future."

Eric Winer, MD, who directs the Breast Oncology Center at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, agrees.

"Ultimately, the hope is that we will be able to identify tumor or patient characteristics that can guide us in the choice of treatment," he tells WebMD. "It may be that some patients will benefit most from treatment with an aromatase inhibitor immediately, while another will do better with a few years of tamoxifen, followed by an aromatase inhibitor."

The American Society of Clinical Oncology now recommends the use of aromatase inhibitors for the treatment of hormone-receptor-positive tumors in postmenopausal women, either as first-line or second-line treatment. Winer chaired the ASCO panel which made the recommendation.

"These drugs are clearly beneficial, but the jury is still very much out on whether patients should start with these drugs and take them for five years, or whether taking tamoxifen for a few years followed by an aromatase inhibitor may be beneficial."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow