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STAR Researchers, General Motors Team for Breast Cancer Prevention Study

STAR Researchers, General Motors Team for Breast Cancer Prevention Study
M. D. Anderson News Release 02/14/01

Cancer prevention researchers nationwide have teamed with General Motors (GM) to encourage women's involvement in breast cancer prevention research.

GM is informing female employees and retirees about opportunities to determine their breast cancer risk.  The effort is part of a new recruitment effort for the multi-national breast cancer prevention trial, the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR). 

Texas Medical Center institutions participating in STAR - Baylor College of Medicine/The Methodist Hospital, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center - are among the 500 study sites throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

"GM is at the forefront of companies battling cancer, and we constantly strive to improve our employees’ quality of life," says Dr. Marcus G. Wilson, GM corporate medical director.  "That is why our support for breast cancer prevention research, including STAR, is absolutely critical," he says.

GM estimates that more than 150,000 employees, retirees and their family members were treated for cancer last year - nearly 18 percent of the 1.2 million people covered by GM health care plans.Nearly 140,000 female, salaried employees (active and retired) age 35 and older will receive a message from Dr. Wilson along with STAR information and a STAR Risk Assessment Form.

"All information submitted by any GM employee is confidential," Dr. Wilson says.
"Information submitted by an employee will not be shared with GM and the resulting information about her risk of breast cancer will only be given back to the woman.  If she has an increased risk of breast cancer and she is interested in being contacted about STAR, only then will national investigators share her information with a STAR researcher at a site near her," he says.

Women employed by GM are invited to complete the form, at no obligation, if they are
interested in knowing their risk for developing breast cancer.  All women who respond will have their breast cancer risk assessed, and results will be mailed to them.  Postmenopausal women age 35 or older who are at high risk for developing breast cancer will then have the option of learning more about STAR.

"I am thrilled that women in our area who are covered by GM health care plans have the opportunity to learn about their breast cancer risk and consider joining STAR," says Dr. Therese Bevers, M. D. Anderson's principal investigator for STAR.  "Many women tend to overestimate their own breast cancer risk, and we are glad to provide a public health service that reassures women of their actual risk."

Dr. Powel Brown, STAR principal investigator at the Breast Care Center at Baylor and The Methodist Hospital, expressed his support for GM's involvement in this clinical trial.
"It is important for all women to learn about the benefits of participating in this breast cancer prevention trial," Dr. Brown says. "Corporate support of this effort is a key to our success."

 Dr. Philip Salem, St. Luke's STAR collaborator, also endorsed the cooperative recruitment effort. "GM should be applauded for their efforts, because everyone benefits when prevention is made a priority," says Dr. Philip Salem, St. Luke's STAR collaborator.

STAR researchers are measuring the efficacy of two drugs, tamoxifen and raloxifene, to determine which is better for preventing breast cancer with fewer side effects.  Eligible women must be postmenopausal and at increased risk for developing breast cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of tamoxifen to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in women at increased risk of the disease in October 1998.  Raloxifene was
shown to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in a large osteoporosis trial.

Tamoxifen and raloxifene may increase a woman’s chances of developing several rare, but potentially life-threatening health problems: deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a large vein) and pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).  Tamoxifen use may also increase a woman’s risk of stroke and endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus) at a rate similar to estrogen replacement therapy.  In ongoing studies, raloxifene has not been associated with increased endometrial cancer risk.  STAR will help further define the risks and benefits of tamoxifen and raloxifene therapy.

Once a woman decides to participate in STAR, she is randomly assigned to receive either 20 mg of tamoxifen or 60 mg raloxifene daily for five years.  Every woman receives regular follow-up examinations.

The 500 participating STAR centers expect to enroll 22,000 women over five years.  More than 8,500 women have enrolled since the study began in July 1999.

STAR is a study of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) and is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).  The maker of tamoxifen, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Wilmington, Del., and the maker of raloxifene, Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis, Ind., are providing drugs for STAR for free.

Postmenopausal women interested in enrolling in STAR may call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.  For more information on the Internet, visit NSABP’s Web site or NCI’s clinical trials website at


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center