BREAST Cancer survivors and charities from East Lancashire are welcoming news that the NHS is considering introducing preventative drugs for high-risk people.
If a consultation by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) is successful, post-menopausal women with a mother, sister or aunt who has suffered with the disease could be offered a five-year course of hormone therapy which can halve their risk of getting it too.
The treatment, called tamoxifen, is currently used to fight early and advanced breast cancer in pre- and post menopausal women and is the most common drug used to treat men with the disease.
Mary Brennan, a trustee of Barnoldswick and Earby Bosom Friends cancer support group, said: “It sounds like a fantastic idea.
“Prevention is a lot better than cure, and if it works I’m sure it will save a lot of people trouble and heartache and save the NHS money in the long run.”
Mrs Brennan was diagnosed with the disease and Non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1993 and prescribed tamoxifen until 2003.
She said: “I had a lot of side effects from it – boiling hot sweats and bloating – it was really unpleasant.
“If the side effects are still as bad, I don’t know how people would feel about taking it if they weren’t even sure if they were going to get ill.”
The new Nice guidelines could also see the age women who are deemed ‘at risk’ are invited for mammograms lowered 10 years to the age of 40.
Mrs Brennan said: “That’s a very good idea. My grandmother and my mum both died of breast cancer and I have a daughter, and I’m always saying to her to get checked properly because it runs in families.
“The age they begin breast screening should be lowered, we have always said so. Women are being diagnosed younger and younger these days.
Genetic screening for the same group might also be offered on the NHS.
“We at Bosom Friends have fundraised to have daughters of mums with cancer genetically screened before at £40 per test, so it would be great if they were to offer it free,” Mrs Brennan added.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Breast Cancer Campaign’s chief executive, said: “We look forward to understanding the full details behind the draft guidelines in the coming weeks and ensuring the final recommendations will best support women with breast cancer and have a positive impact on their quality of life.”