While chemotherapy and radiation have helped treat scores of breast cancer patients, researchers are still trying to understand why an important cancer-preventing drug has yet to hit the masses.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer
, "chemo-prevention" medications, such as Tamoxifen and raloxifene, could drastically reduce the number of women diagnosed with the disease.
"The drop in breast cancer risk can easily be as high as 85 percent in high-risk women," Marisa Weiss, oncologist and founder of the website breastcancer.org, told the news outlet.
However, there are some startling side effects. Patients who took the medications reported hot flashes, and higher incidences of blood clots were recorded. Also, Tamoxifen may increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Weiss understands the reservations. "The idea of taking a medicine daily to reduce the theoretical, intangible risk of breast cancer - it's not enough to motivate most women," she told the news outlet.
Whether the pros outweigh the cons remains to be seen. Still, the American Cancer Society reports that 1.3 million are diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide every year.