A new “life-extending” drug has been recommended for use through the NHS to treat women with breast cancer in what campaigners have described as a “significant milestone”.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended giving the drug Trodelvy to women with triple-negative breast cancer – a highly aggressive form of the disease for which it is difficult to find treatments.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: “Today’s news that Trodelvy has finally been recommended by Nice for use with the NHS in England marks a significant and much anticipated milestone for women living with incurable triple negative secondary breast cancer .”
But Lady Morgan criticized the “unacceptably difficult path for those affected to get to this point” and warned that Nice Trodelvy only recommended “10 agonizing months” after the Drugs and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved the drug.
She added: “Patients living with incurable secondary breast cancer deserve better. Crucial lessons need to be learned to prevent such scenarios from repeating themselves, and we will continue to demand more for people affected by breast cancer.
“Working with Government, NHS England, Nice and pharmaceutical companies to ensure new, clinically effective treatments reach patients as quickly as possible at a fair price to the NHS.”
Lady Morgan called for an “urgent confirmation” of when Trodelvy will be routinely available for patients receiving NHS care in Wales and Northern Ireland.
She added: “Following a devastating preliminary denial in April, this landmark decision will provide these women with new, effective treatment and most importantly, give them hope to live priceless extra months doing what matters most to them and their loved ones.” . ”
Breast Cancer Now and her “patient advocates and passionate activists were instrumental” in making the decision, she added.
Nicola, who lives in Bristol, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in July 2018 and secondary triple negative breast cancer in April 2020. The 42-year-old has been taking Trodelvy since November 2021.
She said: “Living with secondary triple negative breast cancer is like a daily balancing act and treatment options are limited.
“It is therefore a great relief that all eligible women can now easily access and benefit from Trodelvy.
“Not knowing if it would be available to those who needed it was so hard. I have been on Trodelvy since November 2021 and scans have shown my tumors are shrinking.”
Nicola said the drug gave her hope. “That’s why I campaigned with Breast Cancer Now to ensure that Trodelvy is made available to the NHS and that other women have an equal chance to benefit and have extra quality time with their loved ones,” she added.
Around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, with around one in five being triple negative. Younger women and black women are more likely to develop this form of breast cancer, which is generally more aggressive.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK and the disease kills around 11,500 women each year.
Professor Christopher Twelves, Honorary Advisor in Oncology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals said: “Treating women with triple negative breast cancer is notoriously challenging and once the cancer has spread there have been few treatment options that have a significant impact on survival affect .
“Today’s decision changes that. We now have the opportunity to use an effective, targeted therapy that has definitely demonstrated the potential to increase survival compared to standard chemotherapy. This isn’t a cure, but for many women with triple negative breast cancer, it offers some vital extra months with their loved ones.”
One in seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives – with one woman diagnosed every 10 minutes.
A study last week found that having a child after breast cancer has no adverse effects on a woman’s chances of survival.