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Drug that prevents half of breast cancers carries on working

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Health Desk- 18 Dec, 2019: A drug that halves a woman's risk of breast cancer continues to work long after they stop taking it, say researchers.

Anastrozole blocks the production of the hormone oestrogen, which fuels the growth of many breast cancers.

It is already available on the NHS, but researchers at Queen Mary University of London said only a tenth of eligible women were receiving it.

Cancer Research UK said the findings were reassuring.

Anastrozole can be given only after the menopause because it cannot suppress oestrogen in younger women.

It is already used as a treatment once breast cancer has been discovered, but now trials are focusing on preventing cancers emerging in the first place.

Previous research, has shown anastrozole halves the risk of breast cancer during the five years women took the drug.

But now, trials on 3,864 women show those taking it had 49% fewer breast cancers, even seven years after stopping treatment.

In other words - the benefit lasts. The findings have been published in the Lancet and presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas. "Breast cancer is the commonest cancer in women and continuing to rise very rapidly," Prof Jack Cuzick, the director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said.

Courtesy: BBC Health