(BPT) - Julie Megee, a 41-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer earlier this year. Following a lumpectomy and radiation therapy, she discussed her long-term treatment plan with her oncologist to keep her in remission. Like many patients diagnosed with breast cancer, Julie was prescribed tamoxifen citrate, a drug used to block the effects of estrogen, which can cause cancer cells to grow.
When Julie’s oncologist told her she would need to remain on tamoxifen for at least five years, her dislike of pills led her to discussing other options with her doctor. “I have always had difficulty taking any type of tablet medication, so I asked my oncologist if there was an alternative to the tamoxifen pill because I couldn’t imagine taking a tablet every day for at least five years,” she said.
As a result, she was prescribed Soltamox® (tamoxifen citrate), the only oral liquid form of tamoxifen available. Soltamox® is the same medication as tamoxifen with the same approved uses, but it’s an oral liquid solution rather than a pill. With Soltamox®, Julie is now able to continue taking her medication each day, giving her the confidence to know she is doing everything she can to reduce the risk of her breast cancer returning.
Julie owns and operates Perceptions Hair Studio in Norton, Mass., and leads a busy life as a small business owner while raising her two teenage children. With Soltamox®, taking her daily dose is easy, and since it is the same low monthly cost ($10) as generic tamoxifen tablets, it is well within her family’s budget.
While breast cancer treatment guidelines recommended tamoxifen be prescribed for up to five years to help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer for patients like Julie, there is new evidence to support additional benefit by extending treatment beyond this period for certain patients. “These studies now provide proof beyond reasonable doubt that continuing tamoxifen beyond five years reduces recurrence and death from breast cancer. The full survival benefits of extended treatment do not emerge until after the 10 years of treatment, so it is critical for patients to adhere to their treatment plan,” said Richard G. Gray, MA, MSc, professor of medical statistics at the University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, and lead author of the aTTom trial.
Based upon the latest evidence, the US-based National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a leading authority for breast cancer treatment, recently updated their treatment guidelines to support the long term benefits of tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is also effective in reducing the risk of breast cancer in women who are at high risk for the disease, including those who have a strong family history of breast cancer and other risk factors. The decision to extend tamoxifen therapy should be discussed between a patient and her physician, weighing the absolute benefit of tamoxifen therapy against the feasibility of a ten year regime, and its attendant side effects.
Tamoxifen was first approved for use in the United States in 1977, and became widely used following studies published in 1998 definitively showing tamoxifen saved lives in early breast cancer. Despite strong clinical evidence of the benefits of tamoxifen therapy, studies show between 30 and 70 percent of patients fail to complete their prescribed course of treatment, thereby diminishing its benefits in reducing the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Patients often cite side effects as reasons for not completing the prescribed course of tamoxifen therapy, although other factors can also play a role.
While adhering to a tamoxifen treatment regimen of five years or more may not be easy for some women, giving women who prefer or need a liquid instead of a pill may help improve long term compliance and the risk of breast cancer reoccurrence. After the shock of being diagnosed with breast cancer, Julie believes it is important every woman be offered the choice of a liquid or a pill to maintain her health.
Important Safety Information
Serious and life-threatening events associated with tamoxifen medications such as Soltamox® (tamoxifen citrate) in the risk reduction setting (women at high risk for cancer and women with DCIS) include uterine malignancies, stroke and pulmonary embolism. Some of the strokes, pulmonary emboli, and uterine malignancies were fatal. Health care providers should discuss the potential benefits versus the potential risks of these serious events with women at high risk of breast cancer and women with DCIS considering tamoxifen to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. The benefits of tamoxifen outweigh its risks in women already diagnosed with breast cancer.
Please visit www.soltamox.com for the full Prescribing Information and complete Black Box Warning.