A scare has broken out over the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, with women being advised that the drug may, in certain circumstances, be responsible for an increased risk of secondary tumours. Medical charities have moved to play down the concerns but, according to the guardian website, US research has indicated that those using tamoxifen for a period of five years were more vulnerable to developing more aggressive tumours, as opposed to those which require oestrogen, which tamoxifen targets.
Tamoxifen works by impeding oestrogen production in women and is most commonly used by breast cancer patients following surgery to stop tumours returning. However, the indication is that the drug may quadruple the chance of a non-hormone sensitive tumour occurring instead. The findings have been recorded in the journal Cancer Research but scientists have been quick to point out the benefits of the drug. Dr Sarah Cant acknowledges that “Women with breast cancer should be aware of the risks of taking any course of treatment” but states that, “anyone who is concerned should not stop their medication and should speak to their doctor.”
The use of drugs such as tamoxifen is regulated by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, a government agency. They ensure that medicines and medical devices are acceptably safe for use but acknowledge that no product is risk free. There are pros and cons with every treatment and it is a fine line to tread. If a medicine was allowed on to the market with inadequate testing then there would be strong claims to be made that the producers of the product and also the regulators might be found to have been negligent and those who suffered might be able to make a medical negligence claim for compensation.