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J Clin Oncol. 1999 Sep;17(9):2659-69.

Health-related quality of life and tamoxifen in breast cancer prevention: a report from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project P-1 Study.

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  • 1National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Operations and Biostatistical Centers, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



This is the initial report from the health-related quality of life (HRQL) component of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project Breast Cancer Prevention Trial. This report provides an overview of HRQL findings, comparing tamoxifen and placebo groups, and advice to clinicians counseling women about the use of tamoxifen in a prevention setting.


This report covers the baseline and the first 36 months of follow-up data on 11,064 women recruited over the first 24 months of the study. Findings are presented from the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Health Status Survey (MOS SF-36) and sexual functioning scale, and a symptom checklist.


No differences were found between placebo and tamoxifen groups for the proportion of participants scoring above a clinically significant level on the CES-D. No differences were found between groups for the MOS SF-36 summary physical and mental scores. The mean number of symptoms reported was consistently higher in the tamoxifen group and was associated with vasomotor and gynecologic symptoms. Significant increases were found in the proportion of women on tamoxifen reporting problems of sexual functioning at a definite or serious level, although overall rates of sexual activity remained similar.


Women need to be informed of the increased frequency of vasomotor and gynecologic symptoms and problems of sexual functioning associated with tamoxifen use. Weight gain and depression, two clinical problems anecdotally associated with tamoxifen treatment, were not increased in frequency in this trial in healthy women, which is good news that also needs to be communicated.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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