Lack of adherence to breast cancer meds reduces survival rates

21 March 2011

Women who stop taking their breast cancer medication early because their cancer has gone have an increased risk of going into remission.

According to a new study from Cancer Research UK, the recommended course of tamoxifen lasts for five years, but many patients drop the long-term regimen once their condition improves.

However, the organisation claims that those that stick to the five-year plan are less likely to have a recurrence of breast cancer and are more likely to survive.

Dr Allan Hackshaw, lead author of the research, told the BBC: "Our study provides conclusive evidence that taking tamoxifen for five years offers women the best chance of surviving breast cancer.

"Women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer who are prescribed tamoxifen are recommended to take the drug for five years, but we know that many stop [their cancer treatment] after two or three.

"Worryingly our results suggest that by doing this, they could increase their risk of cancer coming back."

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

One in eight women in the UK are expected to suffer from breast cancer at some point in their lifetime, Cancer Research UK claims.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

1 Hackshaw, Allan. "Long-Term Benefits of 5 Years of Tamoxifen: 10-Year Follow-Up of a Large Randomized Trial in Women at Least 50 Years of Age With Early Breast Cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology. Monday, March 21st 2011.

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