Preventing invasive breast cancer using endocrine therapy.
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Developments in breast cancer treatment have resulted in reduction in breast cancer mortality in the developed world. However incidence continues to rise and greater use of preventive interventions including the use of therapeutic agents is needed to control this burden. High quality evidence from 9 major trials involving more than 83000 participants shows that selective oestrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) reduce breast cancer incidence by 38%. Combined results from 2 large trials with 8424 participants show that aromatase inhibitors (AIs) reduce breast cancer incidence by 53%. These benefits are restricted to prevention of ER positive breast cancers. Restricting preventive therapy to high-risk women improves the benefit-harm balance and many guidelines now encourage healthcare professionals to discuss preventive therapy in these women. Further research is needed to improve our risk-prediction models for the identification of high risk women for preventive therapy with greater accuracy and to develop surrogate biomarkers of response. Long-term follow-up of the IBIS-I trial has provided valuable insights into the durability of benefits from preventive therapy, and underscores the need for such follow up to fully evaluate other agents. Full utilisation of preventive therapy also requires greater knowledge and awareness among both doctors and patients about benefits, harms and risk factors. Healthcare professionals should routinely discuss preventive therapy with women at high-risk of breast cancer.