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Tamoxifen, Raloxifene Similar in Ability To Cut Cancer Risk

Both reduce invasive breast cancer risk, though side effects differ

MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Tamoxifen and raloxifene are both effective in reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer, but each has its own risks and side effects, according to two studies from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR) trial published online June 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the first, Victor G. Vogel, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues found that while raloxifene had a lower risk of thromboembolic events and cataracts, it carried a slightly higher, but nonstatistically significant, risk of non-invasive breast cancer compared to tamoxifen. There were no differences in incidence of other cancers, ischemic heart disease or stroke.

In the second study, Stephanie R. Land, Ph.D., also of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues evaluated patients' assessment of symptoms and quality of life when undergoing treatment with one of the two drugs. In general there were no significant differences between the two groups, and the severity of symptoms was low in both groups. However, women in the tamoxifen group reported more gynecological problems, vasomotor problems, leg cramps and difficulties with bladder control. Women in the raloxifene group reported more weight gain, dyspareunia and musculoskeletal problems.

"The breast cancer chemoprevention sky now includes two shining STARs--tamoxifen and raloxifene," according to an accompanying editorial. "Although neither is a supernova, their benefits include prevention of breast cancer in postmenopausal women at increased risk and, in the case of raloxifene, reduction of fractures related to osteoporosis."

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