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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1992 Jan;20(2):117-23.

Cellular effects of tamoxifen in primary breast cancer.

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  • 1City Hospital, Cardiff, UK.


We have investigated the effect of tamoxifen on the biological characteristics of the primary tumour in 33 patients with breast cancer. All patients had pre-treatment biopsy of the primary breast cancer and subsequent trucut biopsy of the primary tumour after 1-4 months on tamoxifen therapy. The staining patterns in the primary tumour of each of the tumour antigens 115D8, DF3, NCRC-11, and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) were unaffected by tamoxifen therapy: there was 16%-31% change before vs. during tamoxifen therapy, but this did not reach significance for any of the four antigens. Comparison of the pattern of staining between the four antigens showed 115D8, DF3, and NCRC-11 to be similar to each other both before and during tamoxifen therapy. All three antigens were significantly different from the staining pattern shown by CEA before and during therapy. Tumour antigen expression pre-treatment did not correlate with therapeutic response for any of the four antigens. However, NCRC-11 staining during tamoxifen therapy did correlate with response (p = 0.004). There was no significant difference in oestrogen receptor status before and during tamoxifen therapy, both of which correlated with response. DNA ploidy of the tumour before tamoxifen did not correlate with response to therapy, but there was a weak correlation between response and DNA ploidy measured during tamoxifen therapy. In only a minority of tumours (up to 30%) did tamoxifen exert an effect on the biological characteristics studied. Changes in these biological markers were mainly in tumours which responded to tamoxifen, and the changes seen were a tendency to greater expression of differentiation antigens.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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