Less than 1% of women took tamoxifen in the years 2000 and 2005 as a preventive measure, especially if their personal history of breast cancer was very low, according to results of a recent survey.
Lead investigator Erika A. Waters, PhD, MPH, and colleagues, wanted to evaluate how many women in the U.S., age 40 to 79, took tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention. They mined data from the National Health Interview Surveys for the year 2000 and the year 2005.
The surveys included more than 10,000 women for each year. Dr. Walters is an assistant professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Her co-authors included Andrew N. Freedman, PhD, chief of the clinical and translational epidemiology branch, division of cancer control and population sciences at NCI (
They found that the prevalence of tamoxifen use in the survey population was very low: 0.2% in 2000 and 0.08% in 2005. The low prevalence of tamoxifen use may stem from various sources, which were not investigated in this study, according to Dr. Freedman.
But "counseling individual women about using tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer must include a patient's discussion with her physician about the drug's risks and benefits, as well as consideration of the patient's personal values, preferences, lifestyle and specific medical situation," he said.