Tamoxifen is a drug used by some breast cancer patients to keep the disease from returning. On January 15, 2013, Medscape Today reported that tamoxifen and a similar drug, raloxifene, will be available to women with a family history of breast cancer as a preventative measure. This is the first breast cancer drug approved for preventative use in the United Kingdom. Both drugs are currently available in the U.S. as a preventative measure.
New in the U.K.
The NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) added prescribing either tamoxifen or raloxifene for post-menopausal women who have a family history of breast cancer to their updated guidelines for breast cancer treatment. Maggie Alexander chaired the team who wrote the updated guidelines.
Physicians in the U.K. view this new guideline as a huge step in preventing breast cancer. This new preventative treatment will be combined with genetic testing and imaging to offer post-menopausal women the best medical practices available. The guidelines are currently in draft and will be open for comments until February 25, 2013.
Other drug options that may become available in the future include the drug afinitor or exemastane. These are a class of drugs known as aromatase inhibitors and they do have the risk of endometrial cancers associated with it that tamoxifen has.
Available in the U.S.
In Arkansas, women with estrogen-positive breast cancer have several choices for ongoing treatment after surgery, chemo and radiation. The drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene are just two of the many drugs given. For women with a genetic predisposition for breast cancer, both drugs are available as a possible preventative. However, use of these drugs for breast cancer prevention is very low. If you have questions about your breast cancer risks and possible preventative measures, talk to your physician.