THOUSANDS of women suffering with breast cancer could benefit from a new pill.
Approved by the NHS, abemaciclib can cut the chance of the illness coming back once a tumour has been removed.
There are over 50,000 cases of the condition in women every year in the UK.
Breast cancer is the name given to any cancers that have first developed in the breast tissue – there are many different types.
Nearly 1,000 people die from the illness every month in the UK, with the disease killing around 11,500 women and 80 men each year.
The new twice-a-day pill, made by Eli Lilly is set to be given to over 4,000 women on the health service.
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Medics said it's suitable for women who are at high risk of recurrence and have had surgery.
These women have hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer.
It's the most common type of the disease, accounting for around 70 per cent of all cases.
In early breast cancers, it's estimated that it comes back after initial treatment in around 30 per cent of people.
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Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "It’s fantastic thousands of women with this type of primary breast cancer will now have an additional treatment option available on the NHS to help further reduce the risk of the disease coming back.
"The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones.
"New effective treatments such as abemaciclib, which can offer more women the chance to further reduce the risk of the disease recurring, are therefore extremely welcome and this is an important step-change in the drug options available for this group of patients."
What are the breast cancer symptoms in women?
For most women, the first sign or symptom of breast cancer is a lump or area of thickened tissue in their breast.
While 90 per cent of such lumps are not cancerous, it is vital to get them checked by your GP at the earliest opportunity – detecting the disease early can mean treatment is more effective.
It is therefore vitally important to be "breast aware" – know what feels normal for you, and therefore what changes to look out for.
One in three women do not regularly check their breasts, and a fifth of these women say it is because they don't know how to do it.
However, while the majority of women know to feel for unusual lumps and bumps, there are also other, less understood signs and symptoms.
Results from a clinical trial revealed that those taking the pills with hormone therapy had a more than 30 per cent better chance of their cancer not coming back following surgery compared with hormone therapy alone.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) made the decision to offer the medication on the NHS.
Helen Knight, interim director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said until now there have been no targeted treatments for people with this type of breast cancer.
"Abemaciclib with hormone therapy represents a significant improvement in how it is treated because being able to have a targeted treatment earlier after surgery will increase the chance of curing the disease and reduce the likelihood of developing incurable advanced disease," she added.
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Professor Peter Johnson, cancer director at NHS England said the decision will add to the arsenal the NHS has to fight cancer with.
He added that it will help increase the chances of beating cancer for good.
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