Cancer prevention drug trials are to go ahead
The controversial research trial has been approved by the Department of Health even though the Medical Research Council refused to fund the study because of worries that the drug, tamoxifen, may increase the risk of liver cancer and because little is known about its long-term effect on well women. Other studies pointed to an increased risk of cancer of the womb.
But, if successful, the use of tamoxifen should reduce the number of breast cancers by 150 among the women in the trial. In the population it could reduce the number of new cancers by 1,500 a year. Breast cancer is the biggest single cancer killer of women in Britain, which has the highest death rate from the disease in the world. Every year 15,300 British women die from the disease and 27,000 new cases are diagnosed.
Over the coming months 15,000 women with no disease will be recruited and given tamoxifen or a placebo for five years. They will be monitored for 10 years. Ten to 15 per cent of the women will be aged 35 to 44 and have a high risk of the disease, with a mother or sister having had cancer in both breasts by the time they were 40. But the majority in the trial will be older, aged 45 to 65, and have a smaller increased risk because of family history of breast cancer or other factors.
Tamoxifen has a proven record in reducing the recurrence of breast cancer in women previously treated for breast cancer who are more at risk. It has been used by thousands of women amounting to 'millions of women years' of experience worldwide, say the researchers.
It is a complex drug which inhibits the action of the female hormone oestrogen. A pilot study in preventing breast cancer has revealed some unexpected benefits including lower blood cholesterol levels and improved bone strength in older women.
The study costing pounds 5m, is funded by the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign and organised by the United Kingdom Co- ordinating Committee on Cancer Research.
Announcing the approval of the Department of Health, Dame Margaret Turner-Warwick, chairman of the UKCCCR, said it was a major initiative in which women would be given the fullest information about the possible benefits and risks.
Dr Trevor Powles, of the Royal Marsden Hospital, has led the pilot study for the trial. To date, 2,000 well women who have been followed for a maximum of 7.5 years. 'At first I was worried about recruiting women. But when we started to see the cholesterol levels coming down and the women not losing bone I felt a lot more comfortable.'
The Medical Research Council is conducting its own studies of the effects of tamoxifen, particularly in relation to cancer of the liver. Dr Lewis Smith, director of the MRC Toxicology Unit in Leicester, which is conducting the tests, said: 'We do not know what will happen to a normal population of women, with no breast cancer, over long periods of time,' he said.
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli targeting policy under scrutiny after shellfire hits a mother and child, a school full of refugees and a doctor’s home
Iraq crisis: Isis orders Mosul shop keepers to cover mannequins
Comic Con 2014 attendees
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...