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Tuesday 25th June 2019

Tamoxifen for 'high risk' women

15th January 2013

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has started a consultation to find out if the drug tamoxifen could be given by the NHS to women with a familial history of breast cancer.


NICE's draft guidelines for England and Wales are due for approval later this year and if they go ahead will be a first for the UK.

NICE said more needed to be done to target women who have a high genetic risk of breast cancer (including those who have a mother, sister or aunt who was diagnosed with the disease before the age of 50).

The new guidelines would update those made in 2006 and could see high risk women being prescribed tamoxifen for five years.

Research has estimated there would be 20 fewer cases of breast cancer for every 1,000 women who took the drug.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the centre for clinical practice at NICE, said they did not fully know the causes of the disease.

He added: "However, we do know that having a family history of breast, ovarian or a related cancer can significantly increase the risk of developing breast cancer, including developing the cancer at a younger age."

"It is also more likely that people with family members affected by cancer who then develop breast cancer themselves could develop a separate tumour in the other breast following initial treatment."

"This is why it's wise for any person with a family history of cancer to receive appropriate investigations and screening that would otherwise be unnecessary if a family history did not exist." 


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