Nightly News   |  December 05, 2012

Study suggests ‘worldwide’ possibilities for tamoxifen

Tamoxifen, a powerful drug with uncomfortable side effects, has already been found to cut future cancer risk among women diagnosed with estrogen-positive tumors. But a new study demonstrates cancer risk is even lower for women who take the drug for 10 years. NBC’s Robert Bazell reports.

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>>> has to do with breast cancer , and a drug already known so well to many women, tamoxifen, and taking it for a long period of time could be a life saver for so many. time, we get the story from our chief correspondent robert bazell .

>> reporter: today's findings should improve the outlook for many survivors, including this lady, who takes the common estrogen-blocking drug.

>> it has huge worldwide public health implications

>> the prices very low.

>> reporter: the researchers showed that women who took tamoxifen for five years had a third less chance of dying from the disease, but the research found it was cut in half if they took it for ten.

>> it couldn't be a chance finding, the study has nearly 7,000 women in 26 countries, so it is based on big numbers .

>> reporter: she got her cancer diagnosis almost five years ago when she was pregnant with her daughter, julie.

>> she knows mommy had cancer when she was in my stomach.

>> reporter: like many who have the breast cancer , this is fuelled by the female hormone. after her surgery and radiation, doctors put her on tamoxifen, to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back.

>> reporter: in the united states , women past menopause usually get the powerful blocking drugs. but the results mean, they say, that all women with the estrogen-positive tumors should get the drug for at least ten years. she is fine with her drug continuing.

>> cancer is something i think about every day, and just to keep taking it would be fine with me. there would be less of a chance to come back.

>> reporter: it has possible side effects , from hot flashes to blood clots, and an increase of other cancers, but the studies show it is a huge benefit to save women's lives. robert bazell , nbc news, san antonio .