Hospitalised cancer patient

New NHS drug extends cancer patient’s life expectancy

Hundreds of cancer patients could survive twice as long, as the NHS launches new drug combatting lung cancer.

The drug, called durvalumab, keeps the cancer at bay for more than the two years – approximately four times longer than current combinations of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The drug extends a patient’s life expectancy from around two-and-a-half years to five years, allowing them more precious time with their loved ones.

Now the drug has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence the drug will be rolled out to more than 550 patients a year with non-small-cell lung cancer.

Dame Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for NHS England said: “We are resolute in our ambition to fight the devastating effects of cancer and new pioneering treatments like durvalumab are a vital lifeline for people living with cancer – giving them more precious time with family and friends.

“Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and it can affect people of all walks of life. The NHS has continued to prioritise cancer care throughout the pandemic and I urge anyone with concerns about symptoms they might be experiencing to come forward without delay and get checked, either at your GP or at one of our mobile lung cancer scanning units.”

The drug only takes one hour to administer and is given to patients every four weeks via an infusion into the vein. The drug then causes a protein called PD-L1 to attach to the cancer cells, making the body’s immune system attack and kill them.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “This is yet another example of how the NHS is pioneering innovative treatments to give cancer patients the best possible care and more time with their loved ones.

“We continue to improve outcomes for cancer patients across England and our upcoming 10-Year Cancer Plan will set out how we will lead Europe in cancer care.”

Durvalumab is the latest in an increasingly long line of treatments the NHS is making available to people with cancer, with sotorasib, mobocertinib and atezolizumab all having already been fast-tracked into production.

More information on the new drug is available here.

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