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Many GPs 'unaware' drug cuts cancer risk

By Ella Pickover

A "worrying" number of family doctors are not offering at-risk patients a preventative breast cancer drug, a charity has said.

The comments from Breast Cancer Now come as a new study found that only half of GPs were aware that the drug tamoxifen could be used to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

In 2013 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommended that women deemed to be at moderate or high risk of breast cancer should be offered chemoprevention drugs - including tamoxifen. But a new research paper found that just over half of GPs knew that the medication could be used in this way. The study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found that three-quarters of GPs were not aware of the Nice guidelines.

Researchers presented respondents with a series of scenarios where a healthy patient was seeking a tamoxifen prescription.

Commenting on the study, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "It is extremely concerning that many women at an increased risk of breast cancer are still not being offered the choice of taking tamoxifen to reduce their risk. This study highlights that greater support needs to be offered to GPs in prescribing off-patent drugs in new uses."

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