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Chemoprevention for Breast Cancer

Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)

SERMs block the effects of estrogen on breast tissue. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene are two SERMs that lower breast cancer risk in certain high-risk women. Most SERM research for cancer prevention has not focused on BRCA carriers.

Aromatase inhibitors

Aromatase inhibitors keep postmenopausal women from producing estrogen in their fat and adrenal cells. These medications are used to prevent recurrence of breast cancers that are estrogen receptor positive. Researchers are studying whether aromatase inhibitors can reduce breast cancer risk in postmenopausal, high-risk women. These research results will not be available for several years.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are pain relief medications, including many that are available without prescription. Researchers are trying to determine whether NSAIDs can decrease breast cancer incidence in women with BRCA mutations. These research results will not be available for several years.

Statins

Statins are commonly used to reduce cholesterol. In early studies, women using statins had a lower risk for breast cancer; however, a clinical trial is needed to show whether statins lower cancer risk in high-risk women. All medications come with risks. Women should discuss the benefits and risks of chemoprevention with their health care team.

For more information on chemoprevention and research, see our “Chemoprevention and Breast Cancer” section.

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