NEWS that thousands of healthy women could be offered powerful breast cancer drugs to cut their chances of developing the disease has been welcomed by patients and professionals in Swindon.

New guidelines on familial breast cancer, released for consultation by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, include new recommendations relating to genetic testing, monitoring and the use of preventative treatments.

Chemoprevention is being recommended for the first time as a prevention option for women with a high risk of breast cancer, due to a strong family history of developing the disease.

It uses existing breast cancer drugs tamoxifen or raloxifene.

Tracey Kidman-Pepper, a mum-of-two, of Marlborough Road, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, shortly after giving birth to her second child, Lukas, who is now five.

She said she was fully supporting of the news from NICE this week: “I truly believe that any preventative treatment is a good thing.

“Having experienced breast cancer, prevention is better than cure. I believe more testing should be done in families that have genetic links.

“At least if women have all the information, they can take control of their lives and prevent themselves going through treatments.

“I firmly believe we need to be proactive, rather than reactive.”

The NICE guidelines suggest the drugs could offer as much as 20 years of protection for those considered at high risk of the cancer.

Even women judged to be at a “moderate” risk of getting the disease in the next 10 years, due to genetic or family history, could be given daily medication.

Chris Askew, the chief executive of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity, said the draft guidelines represented a “historic step for the prevention of breast cancer.”

He said: “It is the first time thatdrugs have ever been recommended for reducing breast cancer risk in the UK.

“This is exciting as, even though most women do not have a significant family history of the disease, it’s crucial that those who do have an array of options to help them control their risk.

“An update to this guideline is long overdue and we’re especially pleased it has been extended to include both women who have had breast cancer and men, for the first time.

“Once finalised, this guideline will pose new challenges for the NHS, as it will need to deliver on its recommendations, including a potentially large increase in genetic testing.

“Breakthrough Breast Cancer will strive to ensure the final recommendations are implemented swiftly.

“We urge women with concerns about their family history of breast cancer to speak to their own doctor.”