5/20/02 - Tamoxifen: Still the Best Drug of Choice for Breast Cancer Patients

There's reassuring news for women who've fought breast cancer. A new study by a leading cancer group shows that a drug, which victims use to fight the deadly disease is working. It's called tamoxifen.

There were talks for a while that new drugs would work better, but a group of cancer doctors say tamoxifen is still the best way to keep breast cancer from coming back!

Breast cancer survivor Pat Schlenker agrees. She says, "If you can go that route you definitely should." Schlenker says what's inside tamoxifen helped save her life. She's been breast cancer free for seven years. She had a mastectomy, but she says tamoxifen saved her from the pain of chemotherapy and radiation. "I thought it was great if I didn't have to go through all that," Schlenker says. "I had no side effects, I didn't feel any different than taking another pill."

Her nurse Trinka Hileman, says tamoxifen works well for woman like Schlenker, who had cancer cells that were positive for estrogen. Hileman says, "It binds with the estrogen receptors so that's why when they test the tumor they see if the receptors are positive for estrogen cells, and it binds to that." Breast cancer patients usually take tamoxifen for five years, but Hileman says the drug can possibly work in the body up to 20 years after you stop taking it. "It definitely will increase a patient's life expectancy after taking tamoxifen," Hileman says.

Schlenker hasn't had any reoccurrences with her breast cancer. She says she wouldn't change a thing about the route she went with her medical care. "I've been off it for two years and I came in last month for a mammogram and everything's still clear. I thank the good Lord for that," Schlenker says.

As part of our Buddy Check 12 program, we encourage all women to do monthly breast self exams and to get yearly mammograms.