So I think it is annoying enough that studies have decided women should not have pap smears necessarily on an annual basis – well unless you have had cancer and then I can’t remember exactly but I think I can get one every year and a half versus three years. But now they are changing it up again with Tamoxifen, and I have to be honest, the news is hitting me odd.
Being on Tamoxifen sometimes is hard. I have mood swings and hot flashes. Some days I just feel a slight undercurrent of blah achy tiredness for lack of a better description. Some nights sleep doesn’t come easily, and some days I hate the way my skin feels and looks. Sigh. Emotionally and physically some days Tamoxifen is just tough.
I had a hormone driven cancer, we have covered that ad naseum on this blog. I have tried to make my peace with Tamoxifen although I find it rough on me, because face it the alternative to NOT taking it sucks.
But now this new study recommending has me confused. Is five years going to be long enough for me? If I don’t take it for ten years what happens? And say they would decide to have me take it for ten years, what would my additional risks be? I am being monitored closely by my doctors and so far so good, but this new study has put bugs in my head.
I am seeing my oncologist and stuff next week, so I will talk to him about this, but emotionally after hearing this news report I am in a weird place. After all, once you have had breast cancer, there is this little worry that simmers underneath. Usually I can tamp down that small whisper of negativity, but today is just one of the crappy Tamoxifen days.
I am only human, and while I work really hard to remain positive, right now I am a swirl.
It will pass, and I will work it out. I have a great life worth living. It’s just some days the breast cancer of it all is daunting….and I say that as one of the lucky ones….
Breast cancer: Using tamoxifen longer saves lives
By Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Breast cancer patients who take the drug tamoxifen for 10 years instead of just the recommended five can further cut their chances of having the disease come back or kill them, researchers reported on Wednesday.
The surprise findings could change treatment, especially for younger women. Earlier research suggested that taking the hormone-blocking drug for longer than five years didn’t help and might even be harmful.
In the new study, researchers found that women who took tamoxifen for 10 years lowered their risk it would come back by 25 percent. They were 29 percent less likely to eventually die of breast cancer compared to those who took the pills for just five years.
In absolute terms, continuing on tamoxifen kept three additional women out of every 100 from dying of breast cancer within five to 14 years from when their disease was diagnosed. When added to the benefit from the first five years of use, a decade of tamoxifen can cut breast cancer mortality in half during the second decade after diagnosis, researchers estimate.
Some women balk at taking a preventive drug for so long, but for those at high risk of a recurrence, “this will be a convincer that they should continue,” said Dr. Peter Ravdin, director of the breast cancer program at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio….
About 50,000 of the roughly 230,000 new cases of breast cancer in the United States each year occur in women before menopause. Most breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, and hormone blockers are known to cut the risk of recurrence in such cases.
Tamoxifen long was the top choice, but newer drugs called aromatase inhibitors — sold as Arimidex, Femara, Aromasin and in generic form — do the job with less risk of causing uterine cancer and other problems.
But the newer drugs don’t work well before menopause….Brand-name versions of the newer hormone blockers, aromatase inhibitors, are $300 or more per month, but generics are available for much less.
The results pose a quandary for breast cancer patients past menopause and those who become menopausal because of their treatment — the vast majority of cases. Previous studies found that starting on one of the newer hormone blockers led to fewer relapses than initial treatment with tamoxifen did.
Another study found that switching to one of the new drugs after five years of tamoxifen cut the risk of breast cancer recurrence nearly in half — more than what was seen in the new study of 10 years of tamoxifen.