man with cancer receiving treatment

Life-extending injection for blood cancer made available on NHS

A new injection, which can extend the life of cancer patients with a fatal type of blood cancer, will be made available to around 350 people a year across England.

Patients with multiple myeloma, a recurring and incurable cancer of the bone marrow cells, could live longer with the injection that has been made available for a limited period through the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The treatment will only be available to patients with recurring multiple myeloma who have tried at least three other treatments and is thought to extend patients lives by nine months while also improving their quality of life.

The injection, known as daratumumab, is a monoclonal antibody which works by attaching a protein to the cancer cells, signifying to the immune system to kill it.

It is administered by regularly injecting it into the patient taking no longer than five minutes.

The side effects to the drug are not thought to be severe meaning patients’ quality of life will not be affected drastically.

NHS Chief Executive, Amanda Pritchard said: “This quick injection can have a real impact on the lives of patients and their families and so it is important news that it is now routinely available on the NHS.

“The drug will offer a ray of light to hundreds of people each year who have had limited success with other treatments for this devastating, advanced blood cancer.

“It is also the latest in a long list of cutting-edge, targeted cancer treatments that the NHS has secured routine access to through the Cancer Drugs Fund, making it good value for taxpayers too.

“The NHS has continued to prioritise cancer care throughout the pandemic and I urge anyone with concerns, to come forward and get checked”.

Over 5,000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the UK each year and mainly affects men, people aged over 60 and people from Black and African ethnicities.

Professor Kwee Yong, UCLH clinical and academic lead in multiple myeloma said: “Daratumumab is a first-in-class monoclonal antibody for treating multiple myeloma.  We have been treating people with daratumumab through the NHSE Cancer Drugs Fund and we have seen the difference it makes to our patients.  People on Daratumumab therapy have minimal side effects and can resume their normal activities, enjoying life with family and friends, and even back to work.

“We are pleased it will now be routinely available and patients can receive a drug which can extend their life while we use the time to identify further treatments.”

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