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Aug 10, 2011 12:03AM
SusanK8, I'm reposting my response from another thread. The blog you are are cutting and pasting has some serious errors in it:
The blogger has missed one rather important little phrase from the data: "per woman-year." The tiny percentages s/he is reporting are actually PER YEAR, (not covering the entire 4 or 5 year time period as s/he interprets them to be.)
Unfortunately, they add up fast! One only needs to glance at (just glance, not parse) the actual study to see that many, many, many more women then that have recurrences. For the very group that SusanK8, and the "accidental amazon" refer to...
"the women with ER+ cancers, with and without PR+ receptivity, including 44% who had node positive breast cancer, 56% who did not, and 51% who received chemotherapy."
46 percent of those who did NOT take tamoxifen had a recurrence of breast cancer within 15 years, compared with 33 percent who DID take tamoxifen. In that same group, 33 percent of those who did NOT take tamoxifen died of breast cancer within 15 years, compared to 24 percent who DID take tamoxifen.
So there is the absolute benefit of the drug, for that particular group. Out of every 100 women, 9 lives were saved (or 9 percent.)
I only wish that 90 percent of ER+ breast cancer patients would never have a recurrence even without tamoxifen (actually I wish 100 percent of all people with cancer never would.) The reality is not so pretty.
But, please, don't believe me. Go take a look at the study yourself.
Just take a look at the charts in this study. Those are the absolute risk reductions...or as I like to think of them, the actual lives saved.
Even among the "good prognosis" group of node-negative, ER positive women...35 percent (35 percent!) had a recurrence of breast cancer within 15 years of diagnosis if they didn't take tamoxifen. If they did take it, only 19 percent had a recurrence (and true, some of those are locoregional or in the contralateral breast, but some are distant metastases).
Anyway, when it comes to tamoxifen, it is NOT small numbers we are talking about, or splitting hairs. The drug is really a literal lifesaver for many women with ER+ breast cancer (who are willing and able to take it.)
7/2010, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/20 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-