Study: Women at risk for breast cancer may benefit from drugs - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Study: Women at risk for breast cancer may benefit from drugs

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Breast cancer runs in Nadine Bilotta's family. Shortly after doctors removed an abnormal lump from her breast nine years ago, she took her doctor's advice and went on Tamoxifen, a drug known to reduce the risk of breast cancer as much as
50 percent.

"I just felt like I was a sitting duck --  I wasn't doing anything proactively about the family history of breast cancer," Bilotta said.

According to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women should find out from their doctors if they are at a high risk of getting breast cancer.

"For example, age, race/ethnicity parity, the age at which the woman delivered her first liveborn child -- family history," said Dr. Wanda Nicholson a member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

If they are at high risk they should discuss with their doctor whether drugs like Tamoxifen or Raloxifene are right for them -- both carry serious side effects. "Hot flashes and menopausal symptoms -- it's associated with an increased risk of blood clots," said Dr. Freya Schnabel with NYU's Langone Medical Center.

Tamoxifen has also been shown to slightly increase the risk of uterine cancer.

The recommendations apply to women between the ages of 40 and 70 who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer. Nadine finished taking the five year recommended regimen of Tamoxifen and never experienced any side effects. Now 53, she thinks she did the right thing.

I had young kids at the time and I feel like I did all that I could do to prevent myself from getting sick. She also exercises and avoids alcohol to further lower her risk.

Tamoxifen is currently the only risk-reducing breast cancer drug approved for pre-menopausal women. Raloxifene is recommended for post-menopausal women.

Ines Ferre - CBS News

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