BREAST cancer survivors today welcomed news that women with a strong family history of the disease could be offered preventative medication on the NHS.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has launched a consultation on whether tamoxifen could be given for up to five years to help prevent the disease which claims hundreds of lives across Wearside every year.
If approved later this year, the draft guidelines would be the first of their kind in the UK.
Marie Henderson, 71, of Houghton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and went on to have a mastectomy.
She said: “Anything that helps stop people getting this disease has to be welcomed.
“As long as it’s done alongside the continuing treatment for those who have already developed the cancer, rather than at the cost of.”
Marie believes a more positive general attitude needs to be taken on the outlook for those who develop the disease.
She added: “There are thousands and thousands of women who survive this but the media tends to concentrate on the negative.”
Nice says not enough is being done to help healthy but high-risk women, who include women with a sister and a mother or aunt diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50. Taking tamoxifen for five years could cut their own risk of the disease.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with about 50,000 women and 400 men diagnosed with the condition each year.
Chris Askew, chief executive of the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “This is exciting as, even though most women do not have a significant family history of the disease, it’s crucial that those who do have an array of options to help them control their risk.”