What is the role of tamoxifen in the treatment of DCIS breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Tamoxifen is the only hormonal therapy currently approved for adjuvant therapy in patients treated with breast-conserving surgery and radiation for DCIS. A retrospective study found that patients with ER-positive DCIS who were treated with tamoxifen showed significant decreases in subsequent breast cancer at 10 years. [126]

Adjuvant tamoxifen also reduces the risk of contralateral breast cancer. [127] In a study by Phillips et al, tamoxifen reduced the risk for contralateral breast cancer recurrences in women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The analysis used pooled observational cohort data from 3 studies and included 1583 BRCA1 and 881 BRCA2 mutation carriers. Of these, 383 (24%) and 454 (52%), respectively, took tamoxifen after being diagnosed with breast cancer. [127]

Overall, there were a total of 520 contralateral breast cancer cases during 20,104 person-years of observation. Contralateral breast cancer developed in 520 women (24% of BRCA1 and 17% of BRCA2 mutation carriers), and 100 of these cases occurred after the patients' entry into the cohort. An analysis that included both retrospective and prospective data found a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.38 (P < 0.001) for BRCA1 carriers and an HR of 0.33 (P < 0.001) for BRCA2 carriers. When the analysis was limited to prospective data, the effect was reduced, with an HR for BRCA1 carriers of 0.58 (P = 0.1) and an HR for BRCA2 mutation carriers of 0.48 (P =0.07). [127]

A clinical trial comparing anastrozole with tamoxifen as adjuvant therapy in postmenopausal women with DCIS, given for 5 years, found that on median follow-up of 9 years, anastrozole provided a significant improvement in breast cancer-free interval, mainly in women younger than 60 years of age. [128]

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