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Drug boosts breast cancer survival

Researchers from the University of Oxford have found that breast cancer patients who take the drug tamoxifen are more likely to survive for at least a decade.

The study, published online in The Lancet medical journal, involved analysing trial data of over 20,000 breast cancer patients, who had their long-term progress monitored.

Researchers found that women treated with an early course of tamoxifen were a third less likely to die of breast cancer over a 15-year period. The drug was also found to "substantially reduce" mortality rate well beyond a decade.

The study also showed that tamoxifen reduced the likelihood of the cancer recurring.

Tamoxifen treats hormone sensitive (ER-positive) cancers by attaching itself to molecular receptors on the tumour to prevent oestrogen stimulating growth.

Dr Christina Davies, who took part in the study, said: "This study now shows that tamoxifen produces really long-term protection. For ER-positive disease, tamoxifen reduces 15-year breast cancer mortality by at least a third, whether or not chemotherapy has been given."

Copyright Press Association 2011

The Lancet