New research from experts at Oxford University has suggested that breast cancer sufferers who are prescribed tamoxifen are more likely to survive for at least a decade after commencing the treatment.
Data from more than 20,000 women was examined as part of the study, which found those who were given an early course of the drug boosted their chances of living for 15 years by one-third, with the death rates "substantially reduced" over ten years.
Results from separate reports conducted over a 30-year period were analysed by the survey's authors. Although tamoxifen can cause side-effects including blood clots and uterine cancer, these are usually experienced by the over-55s.
"This study now shows that tamoxifen produces really long-term protection," said co-lead investigator Dr Christina Davies from the university's Clinical Trial Service Unit, adding that the medication is relatively cheap because it is out of patent.
Earlier this week, Women's Health Concern chief executive Patrick Shervington urged women to stay on their guard against cancer and suggested openness can boost early diagnosis.