Anastrozol, a medication not yet approved for preventive use in Germany, is offering new hope for postmenopausal women at moderate or high risk of breast cancer in the UK. Let’s delve into the key aspects of this preventive approach.
Studies endorsed by the UK’s NHS reveal that Anastrozol, over an eleven-year span, can reduce the incidence of breast cancer by approximately half. This potentially translates to preventing around 2000 cases if a quarter of eligible women opt for the treatment, with half of them adhering to the suggested five-year regimen.
Scientists have discovered that Anastrozol not only treats breast cancer but also serves as a preventive measure against the disease. Remarkably, the protective effect persists for years even after discontinuing the medication. NHS Chief Amanda Pritchard hails this as a vital option for risk reduction, potentially sparing thousands of women and their families the distress of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Treatment Duration and Method
Administered as a daily tablet for five years, Anastrozol works by reducing the body’s production of the hormone estrogen. This reduction is achieved by blocking the enzyme Aromatase.
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German Landscape and Alternatives
In Germany, no medication is specifically approved for breast cancer prevention. However, Anastrozol and similar drugs may be used in exceptional cases. The AGO recommends preventive medication for women at increased risk, weighing the pros and cons carefully.
Tamoxifen, Raloxifen, and Aromatase inhibitors like Anastrozol are considered for preventive use. This involves “off-label” application, subject to the doctor’s heightened responsibilities. It’s important to note that statutory health insurance does not necessarily cover the costs.
Debates and Considerations
Experts are currently debating the definition of “increased” breast cancer risk and who might benefit from preventive treatment. While Tamoxifen is suitable for risk reduction before and after menopause, Raloxifen, and Aromatase inhibitors are typically recommended post-menopause.
Balancing Risks and Benefits
The medications can have side effects such as hot flashes, joint pain, arthritis, rash, nausea, headaches, osteoporosis, and depression. The DKFZ emphasizes comparing the effects of preventive medication with those of a healthy lifestyle, advocating for regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and avoiding hormone replacement therapy in menopause as effective, side-effect-free ways to significantly reduce breast cancer risk.
In conclusion, Anastrozol’s potential as a preventive measure offers a new avenue for women at risk, emphasizing the importance of informed decisions and a holistic approach to breast cancer prevention.