Women with a family history of breast cancer should be prescribed preventative drugs to reduce their chances of developing the life threatening disease according to new research
Women with a family history of breast cancer should be prescribed preventative drugs to reduce their chances of developing the life threatening disease according to new research.
More than 46,000 British women are diagnosed with the disease every year but in the US, women have been thrown what looks like a lifeline. Two new drugs have been approved that scientists claim could prevent the disease. And now campaigners are calling for the drugs to be prescribed in the UK.
The research published in health journal, The Lancet Oncology, suggests that one in 10 women could benefit from anti-cancer treatments such as tamoxifen and raloxifene even before they show signs of the disease.
The drugs are not currently approved for use in the UK but lead author of the report, Professor Jack Cuzick, says doctors should be allowed to prescribe tamoxifen as a preventative therapy in Britain, despite the possible side effects of blood clots and womb cancer.
‘There are trials ongoing looking at new drugs that may be more effective and less toxic – that is the future,’ says Professor Cuzick. ‘For the present, there are clearly the five to 10 per cent of women who are at high enough risk that they really should consider this.’
Breast cancer kills 12,000 people in the UK every year and is the second biggest killer among women. The latest study suggest the disease could be tackled using the same mass prevention approach of prescribing cholesterol lowering drugs, statins, to reduce heart disease.
International studies show that tamoxifen reduces the risk of the most common kind of breast cancer by about one third in women who are at risk of the disease.
Cancer Research UK welcomed the findings saying: ‘Being able to accurately predict breast cancer risk and who will respond to preventative drugs like these is a crucial step in ensuring women get the most suitable treatment.’
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