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Give drugs to prevent breast cancer in women

Healthy women at high risk of breast cancer should be given drugs to help prevent them growing tumours, according to a group of international experts.

The controversial move would mirror the practice of prescribing cholesterol-reducing statins to patients in danger of developing heart disease.

Potential preventative drugs for breast cancer include tamoxifen and raloxifene, which target the female hormone oestrogen.

Both are approved in the US for breast cancer prevention but not in the UK.

Tamoxifen has side effects that may include an increased risk of womb cancer and blood clots.

The 12 experts called for the change in a “consensus statement” published in the journal The Lancet Oncology.

Four large tamoxifen trials had shown that preventative treatment with the drug reduced the incidence of hormone-sensitive breast cancer by 43%, the authors pointed out.

Crucially, a reduced risk of new tumours had been observed for several years after active treatment ended.

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