Daily tablet to fight cancer could be offered in lieu of a mastectomy
About half a million healthy women with a family history of breast cancer are to be offered a five year course of drugs to help prevent the disease thanks to new NHS guidance published today.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have been advising NHS doctors to offer tamoxifen or raloxifene for five years to all women aged 35 years or over with a family history of breast and related cancers for some time.
The new guidelines state that the decision about the best treatment should be a joint one between the patient and the medical team.
In the US, tamoxifen is already authorised by regulators for this use. However, England and Wales are the first countries in the Europe to offer breast cancer drugs to healthy women as preventive measures and it is likely that Northern Ireland will soon follow suit.
The Scottish government has also accepted the decision and said women with two or more family members who have had breast cancer will be offered the treatment for five years.
The drug costs £25 a year and can reduce the risk of cancer by a third according to a study published in April in the medical journal, The Lancet.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with about 500,000 women and 400 men diagnosed each year.