Hormonal Therapy

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If a breast cancer is "hormone receptor positive," then the patient is a candidate for hormonal therapy.  This consists of taking an "anti-hormone" pill (Tamoxifen, Arimidex, Femara, or Aromasin) on a a daily basis for approximately five years after surgery to reduce the likelihood of the same type of breast cancer coming back (in either breast).  In general, this medication is well tolerated and has been shown in a number of large clinical trials to improve survival for patients with ER or PR (estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor) positive type breast cancers.  The most common side effects are like those symptoms experienced by women who go through menopause, hot flashes, vaginal changes, etc.  There are differences between Tamoxifen and the others, and only Tamoxifen is recommended for women who are premenopausal.  Usually, the medical oncologist conducts a full discussion regarding the risks and benefits of hormonal therapy after surgery.

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