A drug for women with one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer has been given the green light for use by the NHS in England.
Triple negative breast cancer is responsible for one in four breast cancer deaths.
But around 1,600 patients a year in England are now being offered pembrolizumab, which reduces the chance of the cancer progressing by 40 per cent.
Research suggests that the immunotherapy drug, given intravenously with chemotherapy before breast cancer surgery, could potentially lead to the disappearance of any detectable cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has approved pembrolizumab for women with primary triple-negative breast cancer whose cancer is at high risk of coming back after treatment.
The immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab, brand name Keytruda, has been approved for women with advanced breast cancer after a previous rejection
Helen Knight, Interim Director of Medicines Evaluation at Drugs Watchdog Nice, said: “Triple-negative breast cancer has a relatively poor prognosis and few effective treatments exist compared to other types of the disease.
“Today’s draft guidance means that since June we have recommended three new treatments for routine use in the NHS, helping to fill this unmet need and giving thousands of people hope of longer and better lives.”
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Executive Director of Breast Cancer Now, said: “For far too long patients with this type of breast cancer have faced the frightening reality of limited treatment options.
“This new treatment may result in any detectable cancer disappearing at the time of surgery, meaning patients may then face less invasive, breast-conserving surgery.”
Triple negative breast cancer accounts for about 15 percent of all breast cancer cases.
It’s more common in women under 40, black women, and those with a mutation in the BRCA2 or BRCA1 gene — called the “Jolie gene” because the mutation was carried by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who had a mastectomy to reduce their risk of breast cancer.
Pembrolizumab can completely wipe out breast cancer cells before surgery, allowing some women to stop needing a mastectomy and keep their breasts and have minor surgery to remove a lump instead.
It’s more common in women under 40, black women, and those with a mutation in the BRCA2 or BRCA1 gene — called the “Jolie gene” because the mutation was carried by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who had a mastectomy to reduce their risk of breast cancer
The drug also reduces the likelihood that triple-negative breast cancer will come back after treatment and spread to other parts of the body and become incurable.
That means there’s hope that more lives may be saved from the devastating disease.
For those whose cancer comes back, it could take longer if they take the drug, although no benefits have yet been found showing pembrolizumab helping people live longer.
Also known as Keytruda, MSD’s drug blocks a protein on the surface of certain immune cells in the body that makes cancer invisible to them.
When the protein is blocked, these immune cells can recognize and kill tumor cells.
The NHS in England said it had reached an agreement with the manufacturer to make pembrolizumab available to breast cancer patients as soon as possible.
The drug is set to be quickly added to the Cancer Drugs Fund and should therefore be available this month.
Women are given it every three to six weeks for about a year.
This is the second new drug for triple-negative breast cancer to be made available by the NHS this year, after Trodelvy was recommended by NICE for women with terminal cancer in June.
Describing the deal as a “hugely meaningful moment for women”, NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard added: “It will give hope to those who are diagnosed and stop the cancer from progressing, allowing people to live normal, healthy lives being able to lead.”
I had to call off my dream wedding because I was diagnosed with cancer…now I am free of the disease after taking this drug
What is pembrolizumab and how does it work?
What is pembrolizumab?
Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy. It is also known by its brand name Keytruda.
You could have it as a treatment for:
- non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
- melanoma skin cancer
- bladder cancer
- Hodgkin lymphoma
You may also receive pembrolizumab as part of a clinical trial for another type of cancer.
How does it work?
Pembrolizumab is a type of immunotherapy.
It stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
Pembrolizumab targets and blocks a protein called PD-1 on the surface of certain immune cells called T cells.
Blocking PD-1 causes T cells to find and kill cancer cells.
Source: Cancer Research UK
It was four months before Lauren Sirey was supposed to walk down the aisle that she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.
Suddenly she had to cancel her wedding and start chemo instead of worrying the flowers were wrong or the caterer didn’t show up.
On top of that, at the age of 31, she faced the prospect of a mastectomy.
But after she started pembrolizumab in a clinical trial, the lump in her breast started to disappear and she felt more confident about opting for a lumpectomy instead.
Miss Sirey, now 36, said: “There was a lot of drama as I lost £10,000 to the canceled wedding and had to deal with breast cancer when I felt way too young.
“I felt like a mastectomy would be even more damaging psychologically, but the treatment gave me confidence that I could have a lumpectomy.
“Now I only have a tiny scar under my armpit and you would never know I had breast cancer.
“More importantly, I’m happy to know that because of this drug, I have a reduced chance of the cancer coming back.”
The mental health nurse has now been cancer-free for five years and plans to celebrate in Las Vegas with her fiancé, 38-year-old account manager Craig Miller.
The couple, who live in Godalming, Surrey, are also planning to finally marry either next year or in 2024.
Miss Sirey recently ran a 10k race for a breast cancer charity.
She said: “This treatment has helped me make a full recovery and I am delighted to hear that it has now been approved for use in the NHS.”
Miss Sirey is going to Las Vegas next March and ran the 10,000 for the breast cancer charity Benno’s Boobs Foundation.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health-news/nhs-approves-life-extending-drug-for-women-diagnosed-with-one-of-deadliest-types-of-breast-cancer/ NHS approves life-prolonging drug for women diagnosed with one of the deadliest types of breast cancer