For about a decade, doctors have recognized that certain medications can actually lower a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. These drugs all work by blocking the effects of the female hormone estrogen, which appears to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.
Further studies have shown that women at high risk who take tamoxifen for five years can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 40 percent. Tamoxifen is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the primary prevention of breast cancer in high-risk women. This includes pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Unfortunately, tamoxifen also has serious side effects, including an increased risk of life-threatening blood clots and cancer of the uterus. For this reason, most doctors recommend that only women who are at high risk of breast cancer take tamoxifen for its preventive benefits. Furthermore, the serious side effects of tamoxifen appear more common in older women than in younger women.
Women who are concerned about their risk of developing breast cancer — particularly if they have a strong family history of breast cancer or have had abnormal cells seen on previous breast biopsies — should speak with their doctors about taking one of these preventive drugs.
Aetna Members: If you have an HMO-based plan and would like more information about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention, please call (888) 322-8742.
Miembros de Aetna: Si tiene un plan HMO y desea más información sobre el cáncer de seno y la prevención del cáncer de seno, por favor llame al (888) 322-8742.