UK doctors urged to use preventative breast cancer drugs

June 25, 2013

Hundreds of thousands of women at high risk of developing breast cancer in Britain should be given drugs which could dramatically reduce their chances of getting the disease, doctors were advised Tuesday.

In guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), up to half-a-million women with a family history of the illness should receive the £120 ($185, 141 euros), five-year course of or raloxifene.

The "one-a-day" programme is an alternative to the surgery chosen by celebrities including and Sharon Osbourne, said Nice.

Tamoxifen was shown in a clinical trial to reduce the risk of developing by about 50 percent in high-risk post-menopausal women.

Another trial found raloxifene reduced the risk by around 38 percent although neither drug is currently licensed as a in Britain.

"Tamoxifen is extremely cost effective, that's because it's extremely cheap... and treating someone with costs many thousands of pounds," explained professor Gareth Evans, who helped to develop the guidelines.

"So this treatment is potentially not just cost-effective but cost saving to the NHS and more importantly for women, they don't have to go through the stress and trauma of a diagnosis, radiotherapy, potentially chemotherapy.

"So it's a major breakthrough for women that they are going to be able to be offered this treatment in the future," he added.

campaigners praised the report.

"We believe that this guideline is a game changer for people with a family history of breast cancer," said Caitlin Palframan, assistant head of policy at Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

"In fact for breast cancer overall it's a historic step for prevention.

"We think more women will have more options to reduce their risk, which ultimately means we will prevent more breast cancer cases."

Around 50,000 women and 400 men develop breast cancer every year in Britain, according to Nice figures.

Explore further: UK considers preventative drugs for breast cancer (Update)

Related Stories

Mammograms reveal response to common cancer drug

April 22, 2013

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have developed a method for assessing the effect of tamoxifen, a common drug to prevent the relapse of breast cancer. The key lies in monitoring changes in the proportion of dense tissue, ...

Study confirms long term benefits of tamoxifen

June 3, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Taking tamoxifen for 10 rather than five years halves the risk of women dying from the most common kind of breast cancer, according to new research being presented at this year's ASCO conference.

Recommended for you

Researchers thwart cancer cells by triggering 'virus alert'

August 27, 2015

Working with human cancer cell lines and mice, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and elsewhere have found a way to trigger a type of immune system "virus alert" that may one day boost cancer patients' ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.