Hormonal therapy for oestrogen receptor-negative breast cancer is associated with higher disease-specific mortality

A Merglen, H M Verkooijen, G Fioretta, I Neyroud-Caspar, V Vinh-Hung, G Vlastos, P O Chappuis, M Castiglione, E Rapiti, C Bouchardy

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    BACKGROUND: Tamoxifen has a remarkable impact on the outcome of oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer. Without proven benefits, tamoxifen is occasionally prescribed for women with ER-negative disease. This population-based study aims to estimate the impact of tamoxifen on the outcome of ER-negative disease.

    METHODS: We identified all women (n = 528) diagnosed with ER-negative invasive breast cancer between 1995 and 2005. With Cox regression analysis, we calculated breast cancer mortality risks of patients treated with tamoxifen compared with those treated without tamoxifen. We adjusted these risks for the individual probabilities (propensity scores) of having received tamoxifen.

    RESULTS: Sixty-nine patients (13%) with ER-negative disease were treated with tamoxifen. Five-year disease-specific survival for women treated with versus without tamoxifen were 62% [95% confidence interval (CI) 48% to 76%] and 79% (95% CI 75% to 83%), respectively (P(Log-rank) < 0.001). For ER-negative patients, risk of death from breast cancer was significantly increased in those treated with tamoxifen compared with patients treated without tamoxifen (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.7, 95% CI 1.1-2.9, P = 0.031).

    CONCLUSION: Our results show that patients with ER-negative breast cancer treated with tamoxifen have an increased risk of death from their disease. Tamoxifen use should be avoided for these patients.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)857-61
    Number of pages5
    JournalAnnals of Oncology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Aged
    • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
    • Breast Neoplasms
    • Female
    • Health Care Surveys
    • Humans
    • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
    • Middle Aged
    • Patient Selection
    • Proportional Hazards Models
    • Receptors, Estrogen
    • Receptors, Progesterone
    • Registries
    • Risk Assessment
    • Switzerland
    • Tamoxifen
    • Time Factors
    • Treatment Outcome
    • Comparative Study
    • Journal Article


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