, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 1-17

Chemoprevention of breast cancer

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Abstract

Despite a recent trend toward improvement in the U.S. breast cancer mortality rate, breast cancer incidence (182,800 new cases anticipated in 2000) and mortality figures (over 40,800 anticipated deaths) remain the highest and second highest, respectively, of all cancers in U.S. women. In 1998, the selective-estrogen-receptor-modulator (SERM) tamoxifen achieved positive results in the Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (BCPT), leading to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of tamoxifen for risk reduction in women at high risk of breast cancer (the historic first FDA approval of a cancer preventive agent). This brought about a paradigm shift in new approaches for controlling breast cancer toward pharmacologic preventive regimens, called chemoprevention. This paper presents a comprehensive clinical review of breast cancer prevention study, highlighting issues of the extensive study of tamoxifen. These issues include the record of primary tamoxifen results in several breast-cancer risk-reduction settings (primary, adjuvant, and ductal carcinoma in situ [DCIS]); critical secondary BCPT risk-benefit findings (including quality of life issues) and their effects on counseling patients on use of tamoxifen for prevention; ethic minorities; optimal tamoxifen dose/duration; and potential impact on mortality and other issues involved with potential net benefit to society. Other breast-cancer chemoprevention issues reviewed here include women at high genetic risk (especially BRCA1 mutation carriers); raloxifene in breast cancer prevention; other SERMs; SERM resistance; and new agents and combinations currently in development. Very recent developments involving PPAR-γ ligands, COX-2 inhibitors, and RXR-ligands are discussed in the section on new drug development.