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Breast cancer patients to benefit after new treatment gets approval

Approximately 4,000 patients are benefiting from a step-change in treatment for early breast cancer, after the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) gave its provisional approval for a new type of treatment.

NICE have recommended abemaciclib for anyone with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer, after results from a recent clinical trial revealed that people taking abemaciclib in conjunction with hormone therapy had more than a 30% better chance of their cancer not coming out of remission following surgery, compared to those just having hormone therapy alone.

Abemaciclib is a pill that is to be taken twice a day and works by targeting and inhibiting proteins in cancer cells, subsequently depriving the cancer of the ability to divide and grow.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “We are constantly looking for new and innovative cancer treatments, and the UK has proven itself to be a pioneer in finding and deploying the most ground-breaking medicines the world has to offer.

“This new drug will mean thousands of breast cancer patients will have a higher chance of recovering from this disease and spending more precious time with their loved ones.

“This is another fantastic step forwards in our ambition to make the UK one of the best countries in Europe for cancer care, which will be a key focus in my 10-Year Cancer Plan being published this summer.”

Since March 2018, NICE has given the green light in all 11 of its completed appraisals of breast cancer medicines, with a 12th evaluation scheduled to be published before the end of the month.

In England, around 50,000 a year are diagnosed with breast cancer. HER2-negative is the common type of breast cancer, which accounts for approximately 70% of all diagnoses. 

Interim Director of Medicines Evaluation at NICE, Helen Knight, said: “Today’s positive draft recommendation, which comes less than a month after abemaciclib received its licence, is fantastic news. The fact that we have been able to produce draft recommendations so quickly is testament to the success of our ambition to support patient access to clinically and cost-effective treatments as early as possible.

“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.”

All of NICE’s recommended treatments are available to NHS clinicians across the sector.

More information on the new treatment is available here.

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