Cancer LIFELINE: 'Remarkable' new pill that slashes breast cancer risk offered to nearly 300,000 women

Woman taking pill

The pill should be taken daily

Sarra Gray

By Sarra Gray

Published: 07/11/2023

- 13:23

Updated: 07/11/2023

- 13:27

Those at risk of breast cancer have been given a lifeline as an effective drug is offered out

A pill that has been used to treat cancer has been repurposed and will be offered to help prevent breast cancer.

NHS officials have shared around 290,000 women will be offered the drug.

The drug, named anastrozole, can help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

It will be given to post-menopausal women in England who are most at risk of developing the illness.

Breast cancer screening

The pill could slash the risk of breast cancer


Trials have shown it can reduce the chances of getting the illness in high risk women by 50 per cent.

If at least 25 per cent of eligible women choose to take the drug, NHS says this could stop around 2,000 cases of breast cancer.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “It’s fantastic that this vital risk-reducing option could now help thousands of women and their families avoid the distress of a breast cancer diagnosis.

“Allowing more women to live healthier lives, free of breast cancer is truly remarkable, and we hope that licensing anastrozole for a new use today represents the first step to ensuring this risk-reducing option can be accessed by all who could benefit from it.

“This is the first drug to be repurposed through a world-leading new programme to help us realise the full potential of existing medicines in new uses to save and improve more lives on the NHS.

"Thanks to this initiative, we hope that greater access to anastrozole could enable more women to take risk-reducing steps if they’d like to, helping them live without fear of breast cancer.”

Anastrozole has become the first medicine to be licenced as a repurposed material to help Britons and the NHS.

The treatment should be taken as a daily tablet for five years.

Woman checking breast cancer

The pill will be offered to at risk women


Health Minister Will Quince added: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK so I’m delighted that another effective drug to help to prevent this cruel disease has now been approved.

“We’ve already seen the positive effect anastrozole can have in treating the disease when it has been detected in post-menopausal women and now we can use it to stop it developing at all in some women.

“This is a great example of NHS England’s innovative Medicines Repurposing Programme supporting the development of new ways for NHS patients to benefit from existing treatments.”

This comes as research showed butterflies could help doctors see new cancerous cells for the first time.

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