Update on raloxifene: role in reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women
Victor G Vogel
Cancer Institute, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA, USA
Abstract: Risk factors allow us to define women who are at increased lifetime risk for breast cancer, and the most important factor is age. Benign breast disease increases risk, and the most important histologies are atypical lobular or ductal hyperplasia and lobular carcinoma in situ. Family history of breast cancer among first-degree relatives (mother, sisters, daughters) also increases risk. Quantitative measures of risk give accurate predictions of breast cancer incidence for groups of women but not for individual subjects. Multiple published, randomized controlled trials, which employed selective estrogen receptor (ER) modulators (SERMs), have demonstrated consistent reductions of 35% or greater in the risk of ER-positive invasive and noninvasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Professional organizations in the US now recommend the use of SERMs to reduce the risk of breast cancer in high-risk, postmenopausal women. Raloxifene and tamoxifen reduce the risk of ER-positive invasive breast cancer with equal efficacy, but raloxifene is associated with a lower risk of thromboembolic disease, benign uterine conditions, and cataracts than tamoxifen in postmenopausal women. No evidence exists establishing whether a reduction in breast cancer risk from either agent translates into reduced breast cancer mortality. Overall quality of life is similar with raloxifene or tamoxifen, but the incidence of dyspareunia, weight gain, and musculoskeletal complaints is higher with raloxifene use, whereas vasomotor symptoms, bladder incontinence, gynecologic symptoms, and leg cramps were higher with tamoxifen use.
Keywords: selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), raloxifene, risk reduction, chemoprevention
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