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Full Report of Breast Cancer Prevention Trial Released

PHILADELPHIA (September 15, 1998) -- Fox Chase Cancer Center has received a full report of the Breast Cancer Prevention Trail (BCPT) that contains better results than initially announced last spring. Fox Chase was a site for the trial.

With data through March 31, 1998 the BCPT now shows a 49 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence among the high-risk participants who took tamoxifen, a drug used for the past two decades to treat breast cancer. The initial study results had shown a 45 percent reduction in breast cancer incidence.

Investigators had released the initial study results April 6, with data through Jan. 31, 1998. At that time, they notified the 13,388 participating women of the findings so women who had been taking the placebo could consider starting tamoxifen therapy with their personal physicians.

"This news gives new hope to women with a high risk of developing breast cancer. The fact that a drug can cut the breast cancer incidence in half is astounding," said Dr. Mary B. Daly, medical oncologist and director of the Margaret Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program. "We are grateful to the women enrolled here at Fox Chase Cancer Center who helped make history."

In the trial, healthy women assigned to take tamoxifen have developed 89 cases of invasive breast cancer compared to 175 cases in the women assigned to the placebo.

Women on tamoxifen also had 50 percent fewer diagnoses of noninvasive breast cancer, such as ductal or lobular carcinoma in situ (35 cases in the tamoxifen group versus 69 cases in the placebo group). Nine participants have died of breast cancer, three in the tamoxifen group and six in the placebo group.

Tamoxifen did increase the women's chances of three rare but life-threatening health problems. The tamoxifen group had 36 cases of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) versus 15 cases in the placebo group. There were 18 cases of pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) in the tamoxifen group vs. six cases in the placebo group. The tamoxifen group also had 35 cases of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in major veins) versus 22 cases in the placebo group.

Only women at increased risk of developing breast cancer participated in the study. Women in the BCPT will continue to be monitored by principal investigators at the Center in conjunction with the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).

The full report on the BCPT is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a peer-reviewed international medical journal.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 34 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research including prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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