Medline: 2072407

Journal of the National Cancer Institute 83(14): 1013-1017, 1991.

Incidence of new primary cancers after adjuvant tamoxifen therapy and radiotherapy for early breast cancer.

Andersson M, Storm HH, Mouridsen HT


The incidence of new primary cancers was evaluated in 3538 postmenopausal patients who had received surgical treatment for primary breast cancer. Of these patients, 1828 with a low risk of recurrence received no further treatment. High-risk patients were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group (n = 846) received postoperative radiotherapy, while the second group (n = 864) received radiotherapy plus tamoxifen at a dose of 30 mg given daily for 48 weeks. The median observation time was 7.9 years. In comparison with the number of new cancers in the general population, the number of new cancers in the three groups was elevated mostly due to a high number of cancers of the contralateral breast and of colorectal cancers in the high-risk groups. The cumulative risk of nonlymphatic leukemia was increased among patients who received postoperative radiotherapy (P = .04). Cancer incidence in the high-risk tamoxifen-treated group relative to that in the high-risk group not treated with tamoxifen was not significant (1.3). No protective effect of tamoxifen on the opposite breast was seen (rate ratio for breast cancer = 1.1), but a tendency to an elevated risk of endometrial cancer was observed (rate ratio = 3.3; 95% confidence interval = 0.6-32.4). Continued and careful follow-up of women treated with tamoxifen is necessary to clarify the potential cancer-suppressive or cancer-promoting effects of this drug.

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