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Breast cancer depression treatment warning

Tuesday February 9th, 2010

Doctors may need to be careful how they treat depression in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, researchers warned today.

A powerful anti-depression drug can interfere with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, according to the new findings.

Researchers said the findings only apply to the drug paroxetine - allowing doctors to prescribe other drugs.

The finding is important because the alarming diagnosis of breast cancer causes serious depression in many patients.

Paroxetine is already well known for its side-effects and cannot be prescribed to pregnant women or children.

The findings, reported in the British Medical Journal, come from a study in Canada of some 2,400 women over the age of 66.

As many as 30 per cent had needed treatment with drugs for depression during their treatment - and the most common treatment was paroxetine.

For every 20 women treated with paroxetine and tamoxifen together for 41 per cent of the time, there was one additional death after five years.

Researcher Dr David Juurlink, of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Canada, said: "Our findings indicate that the choice of antidepressant can significantly influence survival in women receiving tamoxifen for breast cancer.

"These results highlight a drug interaction that is extremely common, widely underappreciated and potentially life-threatening, yet uniformly avoidable."

British Medical Journal on-line February 9 2010

Tags: Cancer | Mental Health | North America | Pharmaceuticals | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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