Tamoxifen should be cost-effective in reducing breast cancer risk in high-risk women

Thomas J. Smith, Bruce E. Hillner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To estimate the cost-effectiveness of tamoxifen in the prevention of breast cancer. Patients and Methods: Clinical trial results of National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Program P-1 compared tamoxifen versus placebo in the prevention of breast cancer, and direct medical care costs were estimated from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and local sources. The base estimate of effectiveness included all women on the trial. Results: For every 100 women treated for 5 years, 1.665 expected cancers would not be detected. If breast cancer death is fully prevented by this strategy, then the cost-effectiveness of tamoxifen compared with no intervention is $8,479 per additional year of life gained. If lifetime prevention of the risk of death from breast cancer exceeded 17%, then the cost-effectiveness ratio would be less than $50,000 per year of life gained (a common benchmark). Conclusions: Tamoxifen for breast cancer prevention should be cost-effective under nearly all circumstances. Its use will require additional resources because it is not cost saving, but it fits within accepted guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-286
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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