A land mark study shows a drug can can more than halve the development of breast cancer in high risk women. A trial on 4000 women, published in the British medical journal,Lancet, showed anastrozole was more effective,cheaper and had fewer side effects than current medications.
It stops the production of the hormone oestrogen, which fuels the growth of the growth of majority of breast cancers.
Doctors and campaigners are asking health services to consider offering the drug to healthy women. Some countries already offer the drugs tamoxifen and raloxifen to prevent breast cancer. They both block oestrogen activity, however,they also icrease the risk of cancers of the womb,deep vein thrombosis and hot flushes.
Aromatse inhibitors, such as anastrozole,stop oestrogen being produced in the first place and are already being used as a treatment for breast cancer.
A study at Queen Mary University of London has followed women with a high risk of breast cancer, based on their family history, for an average of five years.
It showed that out of 2000 high-risk women given no treatment, there were 85 cases of breast cancer in the study.
But in the same number of women given anastrozole,there were 40 cases with virtually no side effects.
Lead research prof Jack Cuzick, said"I think this is an exciting moment, breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women and we have a chance to reduce cases."
Prof Cuzick said there was now enough evidence to consider offering the drug.
For this and much more, read The East African Survey-Regional research bulletin and the British Medical journal- BBC