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Prevention pill for women at risk of breast cancer

NolvadexAustralian women at risk of having breast cancer now have access to the prevention tablet, Nolvadex.

The Australian government announced yesterday that the tablet has been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to reduce breast cancer risk in women who are more than 1.5 times likely to have the illness.

Recently, large international clinical trials including Australian women have demonstrated that when taken preventively daily for five years, the drug can reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer over a 20 year period by more than 30 per cent.

The Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) has welcomed the PBS listing of Nolvadex for breast cancer prevention. “This represents a paradigm shift in how we manage women at increased risk of breast cancer, and is a major step forward in the fight to reduce the  incidence of breast cancer in this country,” says MOGA chair, associate professor Chris Karapetis.

“It means that many women who have been identified as being at increased risk of breast cancer will not get the disease and so will be spared the surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments that are usually required if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Professor Kelly-Anne Phillips, a MOGA member and breast cancer prevention expert at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, also said Nolvadex had joined the cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil as a cancer prevention medication listed on PBS.

“Nolvadex is the first medication to be approved for prevention of breast cancer,” Professor Phillips says.

“Until now the only option available to women at high risk of breast cancer was having their breasts removed which, although very effective, is not undertaken by the majority of high-risk women.”

“Now these women can access subsidised Nolvadex to reduce their lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.”


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