Chemoprevention

Chemoprevention is a way to prevent or delay the onset of cancer by taking drugs, vitamins or other products.

Tamoxifen for chemoprevention the first drug that received FDA approval, is best known chemopreventive. Studies have shown that tamoxifen reduces by half the likelihood that a woman suffering from high-risk breast cancer.

Some chemopreventive drugs can have serious side effects in some patients, which is an issue when considering long-term administration of a drug to healthy people who may or may not eventually develop cancer. For this reason, most of chemopreventive drugs are recommended only for people at high risk of developing cancer because they are the ones most likely to benefit from treatment. People with a high risk of cancer are those with:

  • Family history of this disease
  • An inherited genetic mutation, for example, in the gene responsible for familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Other factors that increase the risk of cancer (ethnicity, obesity, smoking, etc.)

Talk to your doctor about your risk of cancer, as well as the possible advantages and disadvantages of taking chemopreventive drugs. Your doctor can help you decide whether chemoprevention is indicated in your case.