Skip to content

Risk Reducing Medication | Sacha Howell | Prevent Breast Cancer

  • by

Visit for more information.

So what i want to talk to you about now is risk reducing medication now we sometimes call this chemo prevention but actually we’re starting to move away from that term now because it reminds people of chemotherapy and of course these drugs are not chemotherapy drugs what we’re talking about are three drugs that we have approval for tamoxifen anastrozole and raloxifene

And all three of these drugs work against the female hormone estrogen and have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer by between a third and a half so dropping the risk right down with five years of use the first thing to say is why do we need to take the drugs for five years and effectively what that is is the the risk of breast cancer in part comes from

The female hormones over an entire lifetime and so to antagonize or block that effect only for say a short time one month or a year really isn’t going to be effective so we know from clinical trials that we need to take these drugs for five years to really have a good effect and to reduce the risk as i’ve said by a third to a half now these drugs do have some

Side effects and a lot of people know about them when they have a family history of breast cancer because the drugs are used to treat breast cancer as well so some family members may already have had the drugs the common side effects are things like menopausal side effects hot flushes night sweats and sometimes joint aches as well gynecological symptoms are

Quite common in addition now what i would say is that these drugs should be given a chance a lot of people talk about the negative side effects of tamoxifen and anastrozole in particular whereas only about 1 in 10 women have a really bad time with the side effects and 9 out of 10 tolerate them really quite well so i would suggest that if this drug is one of

These drugs has been suggested to you to give it a go just try taking it and you actually may be surprised that it doesn’t cause very many side effects at all now what we’re trying to do as part of one of my research streams is to see if we can work out who is going to get the benefit from tamoxifen and astrozole and we’ve got a couple of different things that

We’re trying to do here in manchester one of those is to look at a more detailed analysis of mammograms because we see with tamoxifen in particular that it can reduce what we call mammographic density so the density of the breast that we see on the mammogram and what we’re going to start doing in the very near future is to take mammograms every three months

On treatment to see if we can really identify those women that are responding well to tamoxifen and those that aren’t so that we may be able to spare those side effects to the women who aren’t going to gain any benefit in addition to that we’re doing a study where we’re looking at taking a piece of breast tissue before we start and taking another piece after

Three months then we can relate that to how well a woman responds in terms of the breast density and see if we can work out what the changes are in the breast that are going to predict response or indeed resistance to treatment and that will help future generations of women if we can define what we call biomarkers so that’s markers of response that’ll help us

To determine who’s going to get the benefit in the future so my summary about these drugs is that they are very good at reducing the risk of breast cancer they cut it in half when it comes to a nast result and we should not be scared of the side effects but we should help to try and manage those side effects if they develop so please do give the drug a go if

You’ve been offered it from your risk clinic thank you

Transcribed from video
Risk Reducing Medication | Sacha Howell | Prevent Breast Cancer By Prevent Breast Cancer