Daily pill could cut cancer risk

Thousands of women in England and Wales could be spared the distress of a breast cancer diagnosis by taking a daily pill to prevent the disease, under new guidance being given to doctors.

Latest ITV News reports

Pill marks a 'step forward' in lowering breast cancer risk

Breast cancer nurse Susan Heard has said the new daily pill which lowers the risk of breast cancer represents a "step forward" in prevention and gives women at risk another option.

Thousands of women in England and Wales could significantly reduce their chances of being diagnosed with breast cancer by taking a daily pill to prevent the disease, under new guidance being given to doctors.

However Caroline Presho, who had a mastectomy to lower her risk of cancer, said she would choose surgery again due to the "risky" side effects of the Tamoxifen.

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Sofie Allsopp: Daily pill is 'brilliant for a lot of women'

TV presenter Sofie Allsopp, who had a double preventative mastectomy to reduce the risk of breast cancer, said the new daily pill is "fantastic" for those women who would not consider the surgery.

Sofie and her sister, Location, Location, Location presenter Kirstie Allsopp, were told they had an increased risk of developing breast cancer after their mother and grandmother had the disease.

Speaking about whether her sister would consider the pill, she said: "I can't speak for Kirsty whether this would be an option for her but I think it's brilliant for a lot of women and I think it's definitely a step forward in terms of preventative."

Breast cancer awareness raised by Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie
Jolie's aunt died of breast cancer shortly after the star announced she had had a double mastectomy. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

New guidance for doctors will mean women will have access to preventative drugs which dramatically reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

Last month, Hollywood star Angelina Jolie announced she had a preventative double mastectomy after discovering she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene, which increases her risk of developing cancer.

Jolie spoke at the time of her happiness that the announcement had generated more discussion about women's health.

Read: Angelina Jolie 'feeling great' after double mastectomy

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Cheap pill could end the trauma of cancer diagnosis

Professor Gareth Evans, who works as a consultant in genetics at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, helped to develop the guidelines for the health regulator, NICE. He says it marks a major breakthrough:

"Tamoxifen is extremely cost effective, that's because it's extremely cheap... and treating someone with breast cancer costs many thousands of pounds."

The guidelines say the NHS should offer testing to healthy people if it is likely they have a genetic mutation in their family
The guidelines say the NHS should offer testing to healthy people if it is likely they have a genetic mutation in their family Credit: ITV News

Professor Evans added: "So this treatment is potentially not just cost-effective but cost saving to the NHS and more importantly for women they don't have to go through the stress and trauma of a diagnosis, radiotherapy, potentially chemotherapy.

"So it's a major breakthrough for women that they are going to be able to be offered this treatment in the future."

Mother: My 'whole world fell apart' after diagnosis

Frances Haworth said her "whole world fell apart" when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.

The 41-year-old discovered she had the BRCA2 gene, which meant she was prone to the disease, and decided to have a hysterectomy and a double mastectomy.

Speaking to Daybreak she said: "My whole world fell apart, I was just absolutely on the floor, absolutely devastated, I was pretty healthy and I thought it just can't happen to me.

"You hear it happen to other people but you never for one minute think it's gonna happen to you."

'Cheap and effective' five-year cancer treatment

  • The five-year pill-a-day course costs £120 and preventing people getting cancer will also save the NHS huge amounts of money
  • A previous clinical trial found tamoxifen, taken for five years, reduced the risk of developing invasive breast cancer by about 50% in post-menopausal women who were at increased risk of getting the disease
  • Another trial found that five years of raloxifene reduces breast cancer risk in such women by about 38%. This drug is more expensive than tamoxifen but the health regulator, NICE, said it would still be a cost-effective option for the NHS
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