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BACKGROUND: Tamoxifen is an important drug for treating breast cancer. Ovarian cancer cells are known to possess receptors for hormones and may thus also respond to tamoxifen. OBJECTIVES: Tamoxifen is used to treat breast cancer in women whose tumours have oestrogen receptors. Since ovarian cancers also commonly have oestrogen receptors, it has been suggested that tamoxifen may be of some benefit. The objective of this review was to assess the effects of tamoxifen in women with relapsed ovarian cancer. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Gynaecological Cancer Group trials register and references from relevant articles. We also contacted researchers and drug companies. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised and non-randomised studies of tamoxifen in women with ovarian cancer who have not responded to conventional chemotherapy. Only trials involving 10 or more patients were included. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: One reviewer assessed eligibility and extracted data from non-randomised studies. Two reviewers were to have independently assessed the quality and extracted data from any randomised trials found. MAIN RESULTS: Eleven non-randomised series, one non-randomised phase two study and one randomised trial were included. Only observational data from women treated with tamoxifen are reported. Fifty-nine of 568 women (10.4%) treated with tamoxifen achieved an objective response to treatment. However this varied from 0% to 56% in different studies. Stable disease, for variable periods of four weeks or more, was observed in 109 of 356 (30.6%) women from eight studies. There were not enough data to assess duration of response, survival, or the palliative effect of tamoxifen on symptom control or quality of life. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There is some evidence from observational studies that tamoxifen may produce a response in a modest proportion of women with relapsed ovarian cancer. However, there are no reliable data from randomised controlled trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Cochrane database syst rev

Publication Date



Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal, Female, Humans, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Ovarian Neoplasms, Tamoxifen