The content of this website is intended for healthcare professionals only

Experts recommend anastrozole for postmenopausal women with family history of breast cancer

Doctors should offer it to women at moderate risk of breast cancer

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Drugs advisory body NICE says postmenopausal women with a family history of breast cancer should be offered the hormone therapy anastrozole because doing so could reduce their risk of developing the disease.

The aromatase inhibitor anastrozole (trade name Arimidex) is a type of hormone therapy which treats advanced breast cancer in women who have had their menopause.

NICE said in its updated guidance* on familial breast cancer that there was new evidence that demonstrated if 1,000 postmenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer took anastrozole for five years, 35 cases of breast cancer would be prevented, compared to 21 if they took tamoxifen.

Accordingly, NICE was recommending anastrozole be offered for five years to postmenopausal women at high or moderate risk of breast cancer unless they had severe osteoporosis.

Doctors are advised to consider offering it to women at moderate risk of breast cancer.

In addition, women at high risk who have not been through the menopause should continue to be offered tamoxifen, says the guidance.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said: “The evidence examined by the committee suggests anastrozole will not only reduce the number of breast cancer cases in postmenopausal women compared to tamoxifen, but it is also a more cost-effective option. This is good news for women and for NHS budgets."

* Familial breast cancer: classification, care and managing breast cancer and related risks in people with a family history of breast cancer. NICE CG164, June 2013, updated March 2017

Registered in England and Wales. Reg No. 2530185. c/o Wilmington plc, 5th Floor, 10 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 8QS. Reg No. 30158470