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Int J Cancer. 1998 May 4;76(3):325-30.

Iatrogenic risks of endometrial carcinoma after treatment for breast cancer in a large French case-control study. Fédération Nationale des Centres de Lutte Contre le Cancer (FNCLCC).

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Centre Léon Bérard, Lyon, France.


Since tamoxifen is widely used in breast cancer treatment and has been proposed for the prevention of breast cancer, its endometrial iatrogenic effects must be carefully examined. We have investigated the association between endometrial cancer and tamoxifen use or other treatments in women treated for breast cancer in a case-control study. Cases of endometrial cancer diagnosed after breast cancer (n = 135) and 467 controls matched for age, year of diagnosis of breast cancer and hospital and survival time with an intact uterus were included. Women who had received tamoxifen were significantly more likely to have endometrial cancer diagnosed than those who had not (crude relative risk = 4.9, p = 0.0001). Univariate and adjusted analyses showed that the risk increased with the length of treatment (p = 0.0001) or the cumulative dose of tamoxifen received (p = 0.0001), irrespective of the daily dose. Women who had undergone pelvic radiotherapy also had a higher risk (crude relative risk = 7.8, p = 0.0001). After adjusting for confounding factors, the risk was higher for tamoxifen users (p = 0.0012), treatment for more than 3 years (all p < 0.03) and pelvic radiotherapy (p = 0.012). Women who had endometrial cancer and had received tamoxifen had more advanced disease and poorer prognosis than those with endometrial cancer who had not received this treatment. Our results suggest a causal role of tamoxifen in endometrial cancer, particularly when used as currently proposed for breast cancer prevention. Pelvic radiotherapy may be an additional iatrogenic factor for women with breast cancer. Endometrial cancers diagnosed in women treated with tamoxifen have poorer prognosis. Women who receive tamoxifen for breast cancer should be offered gynaecological surveillance during and after treatment. A long-term evaluation of the risk-benefit ratio of tamoxifen as a preventive treatment for breast cancer is clearly warranted.

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