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Posted by on Feb 20, 2019 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study wanted to find out if the risk of patients with breast cancer developing a blood clot was higher if they were treated with aromatase inhibitors, or tamoxifen (Nolvadex). The study found that the patients treated with tamoxifen had a higher risk of developing blood clots compared to those treated with aromatase inhibitors. 

Some background

A side effect of long-term cancer treatment is that blood clots can form. These form in the deep veins in places like the legs, groin, and armpit. These blood clots can be very dangerous if they travel through the body to the heart. Aromatase inhibitors are a type of anti-cancer treatment that works on hormone receptor positive cancer. This means that the cancer cells have receptors for certain hormones on their surface. By using an aromatase inhibitor, these receptors are targeted and the cancer cells can be killed. Tamoxifen works in the same way. It is not known if there is a higher risk of blood clots forming when patients are treated with tamoxifen, compared to if they are treated with aromatase inhibitors. 

Methods & findings

This study consisted of 12904 women with breast cancer. All of these women underwent treatment with either tamoxifen, or an aromatase inhibitor. Of these, 623 had a blood clot event happen. The patients were followed for an average of 5.4 years. 

Overall, the patients who were treated with aromatase inhibitors were 41% less likely to have a blood clot. The risk of having a blood clot was also lower for patients who were treated with aromatase inhibitors, and had another form of chemotherapy at the same time. 

The bottom line

The study concluded that the risk of blood clots is lower in patients treated with aromatase inhibitors compared to those treated with tamoxifen. 

The fine print

This is a very big study with lots of data. The results are likely to be accurate. 

What’s next?

Talk to your oncologist about your treatment plan. 

Published By :

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

Date :

Jan 18, 2019

Original Title :

Aromatase inhibitor and tamoxifen use and the risk of venous thromboembolism in breast cancer survivors.

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