Breast Cancer

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Women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer may be able to take the drug tamoxifen in the future to reduce their risk of developing the disease. However, it remains to be seen what the long-term benefits are of taking the drug, and tamoxifen does appear to increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer and possibly cardiovascular disease. Thereforeit is not currently licensed in the UK for this purpose.. The aromatase inhibitors are also showing promise of possibly being used as a preventative treatment, especially as they don’t have the same side effects as tamoxifen, but trials are still undergoing. For those women who have the gene mutation (BRCA-1 and BRCA-2) frequently associated with breast cancer, prophylactic mastectomy is an option. Women choosing this option elect to have both breasts removed before developing cancer rather than run the risk of developing the disease later in their lifetime. Studies have shown that such surgery can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by approximately 90%. Other women elect to have a prophylactic mastectomy on their cancer-free breast after developing cancer in the other breast. There is also evidence to support prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (where both ovaries are removed) in decreasing the chances of getting breast cancer although this is less effective than with mastectomy. This procedure is usually not recommended until you are over 35 years of age and have completed your family. Your doctor can best advise you if you are considering prophylactic mastectomy or prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oopherectomy.

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