Women over 40 years of age could be given a jab that prevents breast cancer tumours, a US scientist has said.
A new drug that can stop tumours appearing and attack those that are already present will go on trial within a year, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported.
If successful, the drug could be given to women before they reach their mid-forties, when the risk of developing breast cancer increases greatly.
The drug's creator, Dr Vincent Tuohy of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said it could offer "substantial protection" and could potentially wipe out the disease altogether.
"We truly believe that a preventive breast cancer vaccine will do to breast cancer what the polio vaccine has done to polio," he said.
"We think it will provide substantial protection. Our view is that breast cancer is a completely preventable disease."
In a study published in the journal Nature Medicine, mice bred to develop breast cancer by the age of 10 months were kept tumour-free after being given the drug.
The jab was found to stimulate the immune system, destroying alpha-lactalbumin, which is present in most tumours, preventing breast cancer from developing.
The drug was also found to shrink existing tumours by half, which suggests it may also be an effective treatment for cancer.
The need for longer-term studies means it will be at least 10 years before the vaccine is available, however.
According to the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, over 2,600 New Zealand women and just over 20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. This means that women have a one in nine risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time in their lives.