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Women may be offered drug to prevent breast cancer

Draft NICE guideline proposes offering tamoxifen to women with a strong family history of breast cancer

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Women with a strong family history of breast cancer may get access to the drug tamoxifen on the NHS to try and prevent the disease.

Draft guidance issued by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence today proposes that tamoxifen or raloxifene, a similar breast cancer drug, could be offered to such women at risk of breast cancer for up to five years unless they have a past history of thromboembolic disease or 8 endometrial cancer.

If the proposal is accepted, it would make tamoxifen and raloxifene the first drugs recommended for use to prevent breast cancer.

The new draft familial breast cancer clinical guideline for England and Wales is part of a review by NICE of the existing guideline which was issued in 2006. As well as proposing the use of preventive drugs, the new draft guideline makes recommendations on when to offer genetic testing and what surveillance strategies should and should not be offered.

Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “This guideline was last updated in 2006. Since then there has been new evidence published and new advances made in a number of clinical areas. All of our guidelines are reviewed in line with regular practice to ensure they remain based on the most up-to-date evidence. New recommendations for this guideline - which are still in draft form - have been developed as a result and we now want to hear the views of registered stakeholders in order to aid the development of this guideline update.”

Neither tamoxifen nor raloxifene are currently licensed for prevention of breast in the UK, although they are in some other countries.

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