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Annotated Bibliography of NSABP Publications

Cardiovascular Effects of Tamoxifen in Women With and Without Heart Disease: Breast Cancer Prevention Trial
Reis SE, Costantino JP, Wickerham DL, Tan-Chiu E, Wang J, Kavanah M
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 93(1):16-21, Jan 3, 2001

Background: The overall effect of prophylactic tamoxifen in women depends on the balance between the effects of the drug, which include preventing breast cancer and altering cardiovascular risk. In a recent clinical trial, postmenopausal estrogen-progestin therapy was shown to increase the risk of early cardiovascular events among women with a history of coronary heart disease (CHD). The cardiovascular effects of tamoxifen in women with and without CHD are not known. The National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project Breast Cancer Prevention Trial (BCPT) is the only clinical trial that provides data to assess the cardiovascular effects of tamoxifen in women with and without CHD.

Methods: A total of 13 388 women at increased risk for breast cancer were randomly assigned in the BCPT to receive either tamoxifen (20 mg/day) or placebo. Cardiovascular follow-up was available for 13 194 women, 1048 of whom had prior clinical CHD. Fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction, unstable angina, and severe angina were tabulated (mean follow-up: 49 months). All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Cardiovascular event rates were not statistically significantly different between women assigned to receive tamoxifen and those assigned to receive placebo, independent of pre-existing CHD. Among women without CHD (6074 on tamoxifen versus 6072 on placebo), risk ratios (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) for tamoxifen users were 1.75 (0.44 to 8.13) for fatal myocardial infarction, 1.11 (0.55 to 2.28) for nonfatal myocardial infarction, 0.69 (0.29 to 1.57) for unstable angina, and 0.83 (0.32 to 2.10) for severe angina. In women with CHD (516 on tamoxifen versus 532 on placebo), risk ratios (95% CIs) for tamoxifen users were 0.00 (0 to 1.58) for fatal myocardial infarction, 1.25 (0.32 to 5.18) for nonfatal myocardial infarction, 2.26 (0.87 to 6.55) for unstable angina, and 1.39 (0.23 to 9.47) for severe angina. There was no evidence that the lack of association between tamoxifen and cardiovascular events was related to an early increase in risk that may have been offset by a late decrease in risk.

Conclusion: When used for breast cancer prevention in women with or without heart disease, tamoxifen is not associated with beneficial or adverse cardiovascular effects.

Cardiovascular Institute, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA 15213, USA.