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TAMOXIFEN IN BREAST CANCER: WHEN WAS TAMOXIFEN FIRST USED?

Because most of the original information about tamoxifen was derived from animal studies, many questions had to be addressed concerning the subset of patients who would benefit from the drug, the length of treatment, the amount of drug needed, and the requisite frequency of administration. Most of the early clinical trials were conservative in design and were initiated primarily in elderly postmenopausal patients who had not tolerated chemotherapy well.

In the early 1970s the results of the first trials of tamoxifen for the treatment of breast cancer were published. Response rates were reported to be on the order of 20 to 22 percent, which was comparable to results from other forms of hormone therapy in use at the time. The incidence of major side effects from tamoxifen was much lower, however, and the drug was effective in patients who did not respond to other forms of hormone therapy —suggesting that there was no cross resistance between hormonal agents. Interestingly, the best responses were noted in women in their fifties who were within three years of expected menopause (perimenopausal). This was the population that had previously been insensitive to hormone therapy, so tamoxifen gave them a new alternative.

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Cancer

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