The Christie NHS FT, has become the first in the country to provide a treatment called Phesgo for breast cancer patients in their own homes. Phesgo is a combination of Herceptin (Trastuzumab) and Perjeta (Pertuzumab).
Trastuzumab and Pertuzumab are two very effective cancer drugs used to treat one of the more aggressive types of breast cancer (the HER2-positive genetic variant) once it has spread throughout the body.
Around 250 patients each month throughout Greater Manchester and Cheshire will be potentially eligible for the at home service. Those who choose not to take up the offer will be provided with a treatment through a network of local treatment centres or at The Christie’s Withington site.
Previously the treatment was given as an intravenous infusion in a healthcare setting, but will now be given as an injection.
The new drug treatment means that it also reduces the time patients spend having the treatment and the clinical observation afterwards. In the past a patient would spend around four hours in a healthcare setting, but this can now be safely delivered at home in just 30 minutes.
Chemotherapy Outreach Manager Stephanie Hechter, said: “The service has proved to be ideal during the Covid-19 pandemic as patients can be treated while shielding, and it reduces footfall at The Christie. The nurses wear more PPE, but otherwise, the service is much the same as it was before Covid-19.
“For some patients, our nurse might be the only visit they get in weeks, so they look forward to it. Our patients find it much more convenient and it saves them long journeys and long waits. For those who are working, we try to be as flexible as possible and work around their commitments.”
This is the latest step in an ambitious expansion plan for ‘at home’ treatments offered by the trust, and ensures that the cancer centre now provides the most comprehensive range of drug treatments at home for patients.
As a pioneer in providing chemotherapy treatments at home, The Christie has almost doubled the number of treatments offered to patients in their own home in the last three years and hopes to treble the number in the next 18 months.
In 2017-18, The Christie at Home service delivered 3,280 treatments in patients’ homes. This has risen to over 6,000 treatments in the current year (2020-21) and if all current expansion plans are delivered, should result in over 9,000 patient treatments by March 2022. Since establishing The Christie at Home service in 2015, 24,000 patient treatments have been provided at home.
The first Christie patient to have Phesgo at home was retired store manager Jean Woods from Rochdale. She said: “I was diagnosed with HERS-2 positive breast cancer in November 2020 and have been travelling to Oldham for chemotherapy and hormonal treatments. Initially, this was once every three weeks but more recently it has been once a week.
“I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to have my treatment at home once every three weeks. It will be so much more convenient and a lot less stressful. It will take about 30 minutes from start to end to get the injection I need. You know that the nurse will come at a particular time and I can then get on with the rest of the day.”
Patient satisfaction with the service has grown steadily, from 86% who rated it as excellent in 2016 to 96% presently.
The Christie at Home service currently provides eight different drugs for patients with a range of different tumours including lung, breast, melanoma, renal and urology cancer. Patients usually become eligible for the at home service after two treatments in a healthcare setting, unless they had an adverse reaction to the therapy.
Each Christie at Home nurse can typically treat around seven patients each day requiring an injection, or four to five patients if they need an intravenous treatment. There are now 12 Christie at Home nurses, with further recruitment planned.