Women who are most at risk of developing breast cancer are to be offered a preventative drug, it has been announced.
Women who have two or more family members with breast cancer will be offered tamoxifen for five years, where clinically appropriate.
Recent studies have found that taking tamoxifen can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 50 per cent.
Health Secretary Alex Neil said:
“We know that the earlier cancer is detected the easier it is to treat and the better the chance of survival. But prevention really is the best cure.
“It is fantastic that we can now find out who is most at risk of cancer and stop it from developing. The way we deal with cancer now has changed significantly, thanks to new technology and continued improvement and investment in services over the years people are now living longer with cancer.
“Anyone who is concerned they may be at risk of breast cancer because of their family history should contact their GP who can offer advice on what to do.”
Genetic testing is also to be offered to women who have a 10 per cent chance of having a faulty gene.
James Jopling, Scotland Director at Breakthrough Breast Cancer said:
“We welcome this announcement that women in Scotland at high risk of breast cancer due to their family history will now be offered the drug tamoxifen as a preventative treatment.
“It is so important that people have an array of options available to them to manage their own breast cancer risk. Although they represent only a very small proportion of the population, for those at highest risk it is vital that their options go beyond screening or surgery through the use of preventative medicine
Tamoxifen will be offered for five years to women at high risk of breast cancer unless they have a past history of thromboembolic disease or endometrial cancer
Around 75 per cent of breast cancers are oestrogen receptor positive and may benefit from tamoxifen therapy.
Genetic testing will be offered to affected women from families where risk of mutation in BRCA1 and BRCA2 combined is 10 per cent or more. Where a mutation is found, testing can be offered to at risk relatives for the family mutation.