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NICE recommends preventive drugs for breast cancer

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4116 (Published 25 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4116
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

Women in England and Wales with a family history of breast cancer will, for the first time, be offered preventive treatment with tamoxifen or raloxifene, after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued new guidance.1

The new guideline represents a major shift in breast cancer treatment in England and Wales, giving women at high or moderate risk of developing breast cancer an alternative to a double mastectomy.

Tamoxifen and raloxifene are not currently licensed as preventive treatments for breast cancer in the UK, although they are approved for this use in the United States. Several large studies have shown that they reduce a person’s risk of developing breast cancer by around a third (30-40%).

Gareth Evans, a consultant in clinical genetics at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, who helped develop the guidelines, said, “This is the first time that doctors in the UK can offer chemoprevention for breast cancer. It means there is more in the armamentarium for women …

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