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Breast Cancer Chemoprevention: Promising but Uncertain Idea


While prophylactic tamoxifen reduces the risk of breast cancer by about one-third, its overall risk-to-benefit ratio remains unclear, according to a study of 7,152 women. Editorialists, commenting on the new data, expressed frustration that tamoxifen “clearly does not have a safety profile that would allow it to be used by enough women to have a large impact on the overall incidence of breast cancer.” In short, they wrote, “Until the research agenda is further advanced, chemoprevention of breast cancer will remain a promising idea with an uncertain future.”


IBIS Investigators. First results from the International Breast Cancer Intervention Study (IBIS-1): a randomised prevention trial. Lancet. 2002;360:817–24.

Kinsinger LS, Harris R. Chemoprevention of breast cancer: a promising idea with an uncertain future [editorial]. Lancet. 2002;360:813–4.