NICE recommends breast cancer drugs for ‘high risk’ women

Hannah Blake


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently updating its clinical guidance on familial breast cancer and is consulting on this draft guidance until February 2013. The final guidelines are set for publication in June 2013.

This draft version consists of new provisional recommendations relating to genetic testing, screening, the use of preventative treatments, and for the first time, makes recommendations for people with a recent diagnosis of breast cancer who also have a family history of the disease. These recommendations include: when to offer genetic testing, what surveillance strategies should and should not be offered, and the use of tamoxifen (originally developed by AstraZeneca) or raloxifene (the generic name of Eli Lilly’s Evista) as treatments to prevent breast cancer.

“This guideline was last updated in 2006. Since then there has been new evidence published and new advances made in a number of clinical areas. All of our guidelines are reviewed in line with regular practice to ensure they remain based on the most up-to-date evidence. New recommendations for this guideline – which are still in draft form – have been developed as a result and we now want to hear the views of registered stakeholders in order to aid the development of this guideline update.”

Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK, with around 50,000 women and 400 men diagnosed each year. The majority of cases occur by chance, but people with a family history of cancer have a much higher chance of developing the disease than those who don’t, and at a younger age. It is also known as hereditary breast cancer.

One of the new proposals is that women who have a high risk of developing familial breast cancer are being given drug treatments such as tamoxifen to lower their risk of developing the disease. This would be the first time in the UK that a non-surgical preventative treatment approach would be used to tackle familial breast cancer.

However, the draft guidance is still very much in the early stages and it is likely that there will be further changes to the guidance before publication in June.




Related news:

NICE backs drugs for preventing breast cancer (Reuters)

Breast cancer drugs set for preventative use (NHS)

Reference links:

NICE press release

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