Tamoxifen – Preventative Care
Over the years, the health care system has been moving towards preventative care over treatment. Taking preventative measures such as making lifestyle changes can be more beneficial and cost effective in the long run. A good example of preventative care is the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen. Since 1998, Tamoxifen has been used to treat women and men diagnosed with hormone-receptor positive, early stage breast cancer after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. More recently Tamoxifen has been used to reduce breast cancer risk in women who haven’t been diagnosed but are at higher-than-average risk for disease. Some factors that put women at a higher risk include those with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and those with a strong family history, such as a mother or sister diagnosed at a younger age. Just like any drug there are side effects, but Tamoxifen has been proven to reduce the risk of disease by a third while only costing 6 pence a day. Preventative care is becoming more and more relevant as it is being proven to save governments money while keeping the population healthier.
A recent report examined GPs’ knowledge of drugs that can reduce the risk of cancer. Since 2013 NICE has recommended Tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer among women with a clear family history of the disease, meaning that they are at a higher risk. But, the report revealed that only just over half of the 1,000 GPs surveyed knew that tamoxifen could be used in this way. Only 24 per cent were aware of the NICE familial breast cancer guidelines
Professor Arnie Purushotham, Cancer Research UK’s senior clinical adviser, said: “Cancer-preventing drugs have the potential to have a huge impact by reducing the risk of cancer developing in the first place. This report reveals that it’s vital that GPs are given the right support and information so they are confident to explore the value of these drugs with those who would benefit from them, wherever they are in the UK.”
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