A Preventative Pill for Breast Cancer
New guidelines on familial breast cancer released by NICE come into effect today, recommending that women at high risk for developing the disease are prescribed pills preventively.
The guidelines recommend two treatment options which provide an alternative to mastectomies, tamoxifen or raloxefine, two drugs that reduce the chances of developing the illness by 50%.
The regimen involves a pill a day over five years and costs £120 (US$262) per year, NICE encourages prescribing physician to make a decision regarding use the drugs as a preventive measure.
The Scottish government have said women with two or more family members that have had the disease are eligible for a five year course of medication.
Last month, actress Angelina Jolie revealed she had had a double mastectomy following a loss of her aunt to breast cancer, which runs in her family.
Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said: "We know that the earlier cancer is detected the easier it is to treat and the better the chance of survival. But prevention really is the best cure.
"It is fantastic that we can now find out who is most at risk of cancer and stop it from developing. The way we deal with cancer now has changed significantly, thanks to new technology and continued improvement and investment in services over the years people are now living longer with cancer."
James Jopling, Scotland director at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, welcomed the announcement. "It is so important that people have an array of options available to them to manage their own breast cancer risk," he said. "Although they represent only a very small proportion of the population, for those at highest risk it is vital that their options go beyond screening or surgery through the use of preventative medicine."
Genetic testing will be offered to individuals likely to be carriers of genes associated with familial breast cancer, i.e. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, who will be referred to genetic counseling after thorough screening procedure. Women without personal history of breast cancer will be referred to annual mammographic surveillance, and MRI testing. To ensure patient-professional partnership, all patients will receive tailored information, including information about sources of support from local and national organizations.
Brest cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, and affects about 1 in 8 women in the UK at some stage of their life. The biggest risk factor for developing the disease is increasing age, and most women who fall its victim don’t have family history of the condition. Only about 1 in 20 women are likely to carry one of the mutations associated with cancer, which, if detected at an early stage, has a good chance of being cured.
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