Health Watch -- Preventing Breast Cancer

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New research aims to find the most effective way of preventing breast cancer.

In 1998, a landmark study led to the approval of the drug tamoxifen for lowering breast cancer risk. Now doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas are joining a follow-up study to find the best way of preventing breast cancer in women at high risk for the disease.

The nationwide Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene - or STAR - will compare the drugs to see which drug prevents breast cancer better and with fewer side effects. Tamoxifen has been used by women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because of a personal or family history of the disease. But it does have some side effects.

The new study is enrolling participants now. Enrollment stops this summer, and results are expected by 2006. Participants must be post-menopausal women whose family history and personal medical factors put them at greater risk for cancer. Each potential participant's individual risk for developing breast cancer in the next five years and in her lifetime will be estimated, based on risk factors.

Participants will be randomly assigned to different doses of the drugs, then will be given regular followup exams during the course of the study.

Academic medical centers across the nation, including UT Southwestern, are participating in this study, so if you fit the criteria, ask your doctor about participating in your area.

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May 2004

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