New Option to Prevent Breast Cancer Could Save 289,000 Lives

Anastrozole, an aromatase inhibitor often given to breast cancer patients after remission, has been licensed as a preventative option in England.

According to the BBC, recent trials show the drug can reduce the incidence of breast cancer by almost 50% in post-menopausal women at moderate or high risk of the disease. It was reported to be more effective at protecting against breast cancer and had fewer side effects than Tamoxifen, which is already already available as a preventative treatment in the UK and US.

Despite initial recommendations by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in 2017, uptake remained low due to its unlicensed status for preventive purposes. However, with this recent approval, an estimated 289,000 women in England alone could be eligible for the treatment, potentially preventing up to 2,000 cases of breast cancer.

Anastrozole functions as an aromatase inhibitor, effectively reducing estrogen levels in the body, and is administered as a daily tablet over five years. Despite some common side effects such as hot flashes and joint pain, its potential to significantly reduce breast cancer risk makes it a valuable option for eligible individuals.

Health officials have lauded this development as a significant milestone in breast cancer prevention. The MHRA emphasizes the importance of ongoing research and innovation in expanding treatment options, encouraging early dialogue from companies considering repurposed medicines.

This development holds promise for the previvor community, even though Anastrozole is not yet accessible as a prophylactic in the US. However, considering the positive data outcomes, should it be made available? If ongoing data continues to demonstrate favorable results, what would be the rationale for not making it accessible?

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