Breast Cancer Preventive Medicines

I recently had a lumpectomy because I was found to have atypical cells. The exact diagnosis was, Atypical papillary lesion. Intraductal papillon, with focal microcalcifications. Atypical ductal hyperplasia. Atypical lobular hyperplasia, with involvement of duct. I go next week to consult with an oncologist. Seems they may want me to take meds to prevent cancer. I'm just wondering, from folks that have experience with this, is this a good idea? I am healthy. Am not on any meds except vitamins, etc. I am concerned about the side effects of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene.

9 Replies

  • Hi Molly,

    Although my diagnosis was different than yours (I had a small mass, was stage 1, had a mastectomy and chemo), I am currently on a medication like you describe--but an aromatase inhibitor rather than tamoxifen. But...I am one of the co-facilitators of SHARE's Aromatase Inhibitors and Tamoxifen Support Group. Our next meeting is on Tuesday, March 21 at 6 pm at the SHARE offices in Manhattan (165 West 46th Street, 7th Floor, Ste 706). If you're local, I hope you'll join us. I think you'll find it very helpful talking to women who are on these meds about side effects and concerns. Remember they affect everyone differently and just because someone has a bad experience doesn't mean you will.

  • Thanks, BklynCatwoman, but, no, I am near Houston, Tx. I appreciate your reply. I have been going to MD Anderson for treatment. I will try to get in contact with one of their groups. I know I you are right about everyone having a different experience. I am just trying to decide whether I really need to get on meds since I did not have a cancer diagnosis. Just close, I guess. Would the cure be worse than the cause?

  • An extra layer of protection is never a bad thing. You can certainly give the meds a try and if they don't agree with you, try something else. There's no harm in trying. As for me, I felt that it was better to be safe than sorry. I didn't HAVE to have chemo but it was strongly suggested. I figured why not go through 3 months of discomfort rather than have a stronger risk of recurrence. But every choice and decision is very personal, so you have to do what's best for you.

    At our last meeting, we had someone call into the meeting, so if you'd like to do this on March 21, 6 pm (NY time), just let me know.

  • I am also in TX & on AI therapy. Would love to call into the meeting on 3-21. Please let me know how I can do this. Thanks,


  • Great! Just email me at and I'll send you the instructions.

  • Depending on whether or not you are pre/post menopausal will determine what type of hormone therapy you will be on Tamoxifen if you are pre-menopausal and one of the AIs Arimidex, Femara or Aromisin if you are post menopausal. Talk to your doctor openly about your concerns and let him/her know how you feel about taking medication Find out you percentage of risk reduction and go over the pros and cons taking hormone therapy with your doctor You might want to take the wait and see approach if the risk reduction is not impressive or you might want to investigate more holistic methods of dealing with your situation Two places to explore are Breast Cancer Authority and Annie Appleseed Project Whatever you decide is up to you and you alone But these drugs were developed to help you We have many peers here at SHARE who have opted either to take the drug and some who have opted not


    Questions for people who just have been diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer:

    For my situation, what are the benefits and risks of aromatase inhibitors?

    For my situation, what are the benefits and risks of tamoxifen?

    Do you think an aromatase inhibitor or tamoxifen makes more sense for me?

    Can you compare the side effects of tamoxifen with the side effects of aromatase inhibitors?

    How many years will I take hormonal therapy?

    Do I need any tests to determine if I am pre- or postmenopausal?

    Do I need a bone density test?

  • Thank you very much. I am copying these down along with a few questions my friend, a nurse, gave me also.

  • Any time that you have a question please post and we will try our best to answer you

  • Hi,

    Your biopsy suggests that you have benign conditions. You may never develop in situ or invasive breast cancer.

    Only you can make a decision about how to go forward. It needs to be an informed decision. You have time to do your research. And even if you decide that you don't want to take any medications at this time, you can always change that decision and start at a later date. All medications have side effects, even the lowly aspirin is not without its issues.

    I would suggest that you take a look at the site as well as

    I wish you peace of mind as you determine how to go forward.

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