Is 10 years of tamoxifen better?

Ten years of tamoxifen may be better than the standard 5 years for women with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, according to a new study from the United Kingdom. Researchers randomized about 6800 ER-positive women with early breast cancer who had completed 5 years of adjuvant tamoxifen to another 5 years of treatment or stopping therapy. There were 617 recurrences in the 3428 women who took tamoxifen for 10 years vs 711 in 3418 women who stopped at 5 years (P = 0.002). There was also a lower death rate (331 vs 397, P = 0.01) and reduced overall mortality (639 vs 722, P = 0.01) in the 10-year group. There were higher rates of endometrial cancer (relative risk [RR] 1.74, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.30-2.34) and pulmonary embolism (RR 1.87; CI, 1.13-3.07) in the 10-year group, but no higher rate of stroke and a lower risk of ischemic heart disease (RR 0.76; CI, 0.60-0.95). The authors suggest that 10 years of tamoxifen in ER-positive patients can approximately halve breast cancer mortality during the second decade after diagnosis (Lancet published online Dec. 5, 2012. doi.org/10.1016S0140-6736(12) 61963-1).