In the UK, Anastrozole will be administered to women at increased risk of breast cancer as a preventive treatment. This is a drug generally taken during the treatment of this cancer. The British health care system hopes that thanks to the use of this preparation it will be possible to prevent up to thousands of cases of breast cancer. Material from the “Poland and World” magazine.
– In November 2019, I was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer – says Trish Jamieson from the UK. All her siblings are carriers of the BRCA2 gene mutation, which increases the likelihood of developing ovarian and breast cancer. Her youngest sister died of breast cancer.
NHS – that is, British National Health Fund has just announced that postmenopausal women who have a family history of breast cancer and are genetically affected will be able to benefit from special treatment.
– This is very important because it is a preventive treatment. We see that in women who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, we can reduce it by half, says Dr. Claire Bromley from Cancer Research UK.
The British are starting to use Anastrozole prophylactically
This is about Anastrozole – so far, also in Poland, it was administered to women diagnosed with breast cancer as part of the so-called complementary hormone therapy. In the UK, it is also approved for preventive use.
– The vast majority of our patients suffer from hormone-dependent cancer, and in such a situation, hormone therapy is used for five or even ten years – emphasizes Dr. Katarzyna Pogoda from the National Institute of Oncology.
Anastrozole reduces estrogen production in adipose tissue. – And because of the lower level of estrogen in the body, breast cancer may not develop – explains clinical oncologist Dr. Agnieszka Jagiełło-Gruszfel.
The British health care system estimates that almost 300,000 women could qualify for the preventive anastrozole program. with a moderate or high risk of breast cancer – thanks to the treatment, two thousand cases could be prevented.
Side effects of Anastrozole
The drug is not covered by a patent, which means that it is produced by different companies. Taking the drug may not be equally easy for all patients, doctors say. Side effects appear.
– Women who suffer from breast cancer and use hormone therapy have numerous side effects – points out Dr. Katarzyna Pogoda. – These are hot flashes, joint pain, muscle pain, various ailments, and since the therapy is long, maintaining the hormone therapy is also not that easy – he adds.
When asked about preventive administration of the drug in Poland, the Ministry of Health replied that two years ago the national consultant for clinical oncology was asked for an opinion on this matter. At that time, the consultant did not see the need to cover the drug for the so-called “off-label indication” with reimbursement. The Ministry assures that it will ask for your opinion again.
Other solutions in the fight against breast cancer
Doctors point out that there are other solutions for patients with BRCA mutations that help avoid the disease. – First of all, these are surgeries that reduce the risk of cancer – says Dr. Katarzyna Pogoda, pointing to the so-called preventive mastectomy.
Dr. Agnieszka Jagiełło-Gruszfeld encourages, first of all, preventive examinations, which in Poland only 1/3 of eligible women take part in. – Breast cancer prevention with Anastrozole, of course, applies to postmenopausal women, and these are women who have the right and should definitely undergo mammography – she emphasizes.
From November 1, free mammography as part of the preventive program covers a wider group of women aged 45 to 74.
Main photo source: X/NHS Platform