Tamoxifen Eases Prostate Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Adding the drug cut down on breast enlargement and breast pain

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THURSDAY, April 14, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- In prostate cancer patients, the drug tamoxifen is more effective than low-dose radiotherapy at preventing breast pain and enlargement in patients taking the cancer drug bicalutamide, according to a new study.

In some European countries, the drug bicalutamide is approved in addition to primary treatment -- usually radiotherapy or surgical removal of the prostate -- for early prostate cancer. However, breast pain and enlargement are common side effects with bicalutamide therapy.

The Italian study, published in the April 14 issue of the journal Lancet Oncology, included 151 men who had already received primary treatment for prostate cancer.

For 24 weeks, 51 of the men received 150 mg bicalutamide per day, 50 received 150 mg bicalutamide plus 10 mg tamoxifen per day, and 50 received 150 bicalutamide per day plus one dose of radiotherapy at the start of the treatment. Average follow-up time was 25 months.

The researchers report that 35 of the 51 patients who received bicalutamide alone developed enlarged breasts, compared with just four of the 50 men who received additional tamoxifen, and 17 of the 50 who received an additional dose of radiotherapy.

Twenty-nine of the 51 men who received bicalutamide alone developed breast pain, compared with only three of the 50 men who received additional tamoxifen, and 15 of the 50 men who received an additional dose of radiotherapy.

Thirty-five of the men who received bicalutamide alone subsequently developed enlarged breasts or moderate to severe breast pain. These men were randomly assigned to receive either additional treatment of 10 mg tamoxifen or a dose of radiotherapy. Those in the tamoxifen group experienced substantially reduced frequency of breast pain and breast enlargement compared to those who received the additional dose of radiotherapy.

"We have shown that tamoxifen and radiotherapy can prevent breast enlargement and breast pain in some patients receiving bicalutamide therapy for prostate cancer, and that tamoxifen is more effective than radiotherapy," researcher Giuseppe Di Lorenzo, University Federico II, School of Medicine in Naples, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, April 14, 2005

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