New Guidelines Recommend Breast Cancer Survivors Take Tamoxifen Up to 10 Years

Posted on February 18, 2016 by Disability Help Group

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has updated its guidelines regarding tamoxifen, a hormone-blocking drug. The standard has been five years following some types of breast cancer. But now it’s recommended to take tamoxifen up to ten years.

Women prescribed tamoxifen include those with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, one of the most common types to develop and so-named because certain hormones (especially estrogen) fuel the cancer cells. Tamoxifen works by blocking them.

The updated guidelines include women with this type of cancer between stages one and three. Two large studies found that survival rates were longer for women who took tamoxifen ten years instead of five. Also, there was less chance of recurrence or the cancer developing in the other breast.

Also addressed in ASCO’s newest guidelines is the importance of doctors talking to patients about the potential risks in taking the drug for a longer period of time. Weighing the risks against the benefits is an important discussion to have.

Less serious (but bothersome) side effects include sexual disinterest, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness, irritation and discharge. They may persist when taking tamoxifen longer. Of course, there are more serious risks as well, such as stroke, blood clots, ovarian cysts and more. The good news is that researchers didn’t see any new side effects among women taking the drug for a longer period of time.

Breast cancer is many times treatable, with patients able to enjoy productive and fulfilling lives. But for some, it progresses to the point that functioning on a daily basis becomes impossible. Those who meet the criteria for breast cancer disability or who cannot work because of the condition may qualify for Social Security disability. If the condition is severe or is inoperable or unresectable, it may fall under Compassionate Allowances to expedite benefits. To learn more about eligibility, contact Disability Help Group by calling  1-(800)-800-3332.