Final draft approval for new drugs to tackle early stage breast cancer in postmenopausal women has been given by the government's health watchdog.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has advised that the aromatase inhibitors anastrozole, exemestane and letrozole are used alongside the current treatment of tamoxifen.
In the UK, five years of tamoxifen therapy has become standard hormonal treatment for postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer.
There are roughly 40,000 new cases of breast cancer each year, with an estimated 12,000 people dying from the disease every year.
Professor John Toy, medical director of Cancer Research UK, said that the charity was "delighted" at the recommendation.
"The new guidelines now mean that all doctors on the NHS will be able to prescribe these important drugs to postmenopausal women with early stage breast cancer," he said.
"Aromatase inhibitors form a key part of the new battery of treatments available for women with breast cancer, and Cancer Research UK is proud to be playing an active role in their development."
Formal consultees have 15 days to consider the draft proposal. Subject to any appeals, the proposals are likely to become the basis for Nice's guidance on the drugs' use in NHS England and Wales.
NHS doctors are now allowed to prescribe the drugs, although many hospitals choose to wait for new drugs to receive final approval, leading many cancer patients to seek private treatment.
© Adfero Ltd
Cancer treatment news : 11/08/2006