Every woman has a baseline risk for developing breast cancer. This is different for every individual, and is dependent on a number of factors, many of which a person has no control over, such as genetic predisposition.
However, there are measures that an individual can take that will minimize their risk within the framework of their background predisposition. The most effective ways to prevent breast cancer are simple changes that anyone can make. Making positive lifestyle choices by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and avoiding behaviors known to cause cancer (smoking, more than moderate alcohol consumption) are recommended to decrease one’s risk.
Performing monthly breast self-exams, getting yearly mammograms starting at the age of 40, and seeing your doctor on a regular basis for clinical breast exams are all recommended by the doctors of The Hoffberger Breast Center.
For women who are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer there are medications that reduce the risk for developing breast cancer – Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (Evista™). Women at the greatest risk may be candidates for a bilateral preventive mastectomy.
Tamoxifen and Raloxifene to Prevent Breast Cancer
Studies have found that women taking Tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer have a reduced risk for at least several years after their treatment ends, according to two studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Follow-up of women on the STAR trial (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene) for breast cancer prevention showed persistent benefit after completing the 5 years of treatment, but the long term benefit was stronger for Tamoxifen compared to Raloxifene.
Tamoxifen may be used for both premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Raloxifene is approved only for use among postmenopausal women for breast cancer risk reduction. Raloxifene’s safety profile is better than Tamoxifen, especially if women still have their uterus, since the increased risk of uterine cancer seen with Tamoxifen is not reported with Raloxifene.
Women should have their risk of breast cancer assessed and then discuss with their health care provider to decide if taking Tamoxifen or Raloxifene is appropriate for them.