It's recommended that breast cancer survivors take Tamoxifen for five years to keep the disease from recurring. But now researchers at Oxford University say patients need to take the drug for at least twice as long.
Every year about 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Fifty-thousand are young women who haven't gone through menopause. Tamoxifen is the top drug treatment for that group since it blocks the hormone estrogen which can fuel tumors.
British researchers found breast cancer patients who took the drug longer were less likely to die from the disease and less likely to have their cancer come back.
Dr. Judy Garber of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute says, "the benefits are particularly in the second ten years. That's very helpful I think for that group of women who have really been worrying until now."
Researchers say even women who completed Tamoxifen years ago may consider going back on it.
Tamoxifen has side effects including increased risk for endometrial cancer, blood clots, hot flashes and nausea. But scientists say the risk of serious side effects is low.