Objective and Methods: In this article, we provide an interdisciplinary concise review of the effects of raloxifene on breast, bone, and reproductive organs, as well as the adverse events that may be associated with its use.
Results: Raloxifene has been shown to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (PMW) with low bone mass and prevent vertebral fractures in those with osteoporosis/low bone mass; it has not been shown to reduce the risk of nonvertebral fractures. Raloxifene reduces the risk of invasive breast cancer in PMW with osteoporosis or at high risk of breast cancer. The risk of venous thromboembolism has been consistently shown to be increased with raloxifene, so it should not be used in women at high risk of venous thromboembolism. Although raloxifene does not increase, nor decrease, the risk of coronary or stroke events overall, in the raloxifene trial of PMW at increased risk of coronary events, the incidence of fatal stroke was higher in women assigned raloxifene versus placebo.
Conclusions: Based on its approved indications, it is appropriate to prescribe raloxifene to prevent or treat osteoporosis, as well as to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer in PMW with osteoporosis or at high risk of breast cancer. Women at increased risk of both fracture and invasive breast cancer are those most likely to receive a dual benefit with raloxifene. Decision making must involve the incorporation of the woman's personal feelings about the risks and benefits of raloxifene therapy, balanced with her interest in reducing risk of fractures and breast cancer through pharmacological intervention.