A medication that helps prevent breast cancer could benefit tens of thousands of women in England.
After being used for many years to treat the illness, anastrozozole is now approved for use as a prophylactic.
According to recent research, the medication can lower post-menopausal women who are at moderate or high risk of developing breast cancer by about 50%.
Charities called it “a major step forward” for women who had a high risk of developing the cancer in their families.
It is estimated that 289,000 women may be qualified for the medication.
Additionally, according to NHS England, if one in four of these come forward, it may help avoid 2,000 instances of breast cancer in England, saving the health service £15 million in treatment expenses.
A woman’s general practitioner (GP) can refer her to a specialist for a comprehensive risk assessment that considers her family history if she is concerned that her risk of breast cancer is higher than average.
Since anastrozozole is no longer protected by a patent, it can be produced by multiple companies and sold for a reasonable price.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has recently granted a license for its usage in this manner, which is a component of NHS England’s medicines-repurposing initiative. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence first recommended it as a preventative alternative in 2017.
Lesley-Ann Woodhams, 61, recently finished a five-year regimen consisting of one tablet taken daily.
“It was an easy decision, since I had witnessed my mother fight breast cancer,” she explains.
“I could live a life without constantly worrying or giving a thought to what could be if I’d developed breast cancer,” says Lesley-Ann.
“It really was a gift – it gave my family and myself peace of mind and, more importantly, a continued future to look forward to.”
The medication is a “very attractive” option for people at high risk of breast cancer, according to Prof. Peter Johnson, NHS England’s national clinical director for cancer, who made this statement on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
According to study, it was less likely to cause negative effects and was more successful in preventing the disease than tamoxifen, which is currently used as a preventative measure.
“When taking tamoxifen, people have been especially concerned about blood clots and, in certain cases, the development of endometrial cancer.” It’s a more appealing hypothesis because anastrozozole doesn’t seem to achieve that,” he stated.
“The extension of anastrozole’s license to cover it being used as a risk-reducing treatment is a major step forward that will enable more eligible women with a significant family history of breast cancer to reduce their chance of developing the disease,” stated Baroness Delyth Morgan, CEO of Breast Cancer Now.
In England, breast cancer is the most frequent cancer, affecting around 47,000 diagnoses annually.
Of those situations, women over 50 receive a diagnosis in eight out of ten cases.
Breast and ovarian cancer are risks for women who carry a mutation in one of the BRCA genes.
In the UK, the average woman’s lifetime risk of having breast cancer is 15%; but, if she carries the mutation, her risk rises dramatically.
For every 100 women with a mutation in the BRCA1 gene:
- In their lives, 65 to 85 will get breast cancer (65 to 85% lifetime risk).
- Ovarian cancer will strike 40 to 63 people (40 to 63% lifetime risk).
- For every 100 women with a mutation in the BRCA2 gene:
- In their lives, 40 to 85 will get breast cancer (40 to 85% lifetime risk).
- Ovarian cancer will strike 10 to 27 people (10 to 27% lifetime risk).
- Additionally, breast cancer in women carrying BRCA mutations is more likely to strike earlier in life.
You can find out if you have inherited these genes by taking a genetic test if there is a history of cancer in your family.
Minister of Health Will Quince expressed his “delight” that the medication may now “help prevent this cruel disease.”
“We’ve already seen the positive effect anastrozole can have in treating the disease when it has been detected in post-menopausal women and now we can use it to stop it developing at all in some women,” he stated.
Amanda Pritchard, the chief executive of the NHS, thinks that the licensing of anastrozole “represents the first step to ensuring the risk-reducing option can be accessed by all who could benefit from it”.
In order to lower the hormone estrogen, an enzyme known as aromatase is blocked by anastrozozole.
For five years, the medication is taken as a single daily dose of 1 mg pill. According to officials, the preventive impact of the medicine continues for years after the lady stops using it.
Anastrozole adverse reactions
Individuals experiencing adverse effects should consult their physician or pharmacist; the most typical ones are as follows:
- hot flushes
- feeling weak
- pain or stiffness in the joints
- skin rash