Testing Drugs on Healthy People

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Breast cancer kills women. This year, in this country, more than 40,000 women will die from the disease.

There are also hundreds of thousands more who live with the fear that they will be next. They are women who are considered high-risk. Maybe their mother or sister had breast cancer, maybe they found a lump or had a biopsy done. For them, the options to prevent cancer are few. They can try Tamoxifen, a drug with worrisome side effects, or they can take the radical step of having a breast removed.

But now a new treatment is raising both hopes and ethical questions. Researchers will soon begin testing a powerful new drug on women who are healthy, but high risk. Some say this marks a breakthrough, others say the trials are asking healthy women to trade one risk for another.


Dr. Paul Goss, director of breast cancer research at Massachusetts General Hospital

Barbara Brenner, breast cancer survivor and executive director of Breast Cancer Action