Women who could benefit from medicine to prevent breast cancer often don't take them, from the January 2014 Harvard Women's Health Watch

Many new and potent medicines to prevent breast cancer have become available in the past 20 years. Surprisingly, many women—even those at high risk for the disease—are not taking advantage of these medicines, according to an article in the January 2014 issue of the Harvard Women's Health Watch. Drugs such as tamoxifen (Nolvadex), raloxifene (Evista), and exemestane (Aromasin) can reduce the odds of developing breast cancer for many women at high risk of developing breast cancer. "These drugs have been shown to prevent the occurrence of invasive and pre-invasive breast cancers," says Dr. Paul Goss, director of breast cancer research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. "It isn't just cancer that's prevented. It's precancer and abnormal mammograms. That leads to fewer biopsies." Yet the vast majority of women who could most benefit from taking a breast cancer prevention drug have shied away from doing that. Part of their reluctance to take these drugs, and their doctors' reluctance to prescribe them, stems from worries over side effects such as blood clots and an increased risk for uterine cancer.
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