'Lifesaver' breast cancer drug becomes available on the NHS

‘Lifesaver’ breast cancer drug which can reduce risk of the disease recurring by a third in some women becomes available on the NHS

  • A drug hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ for breast cancer victims is now on the NHS
  • Trials show abemaciclib can reduce the risk of one form of the disease by a third
  • The cancer sees 50k diagnosed in England per year, making it the most common

A drug hailed as a ‘significant breakthrough’ for thousands of breast cancer victims was yesterday made available on the NHS.

Trials have shown that abemaciclib can reduce the risk of one form of the disease recurring in some women by a third.

The drug, which is used with hormone therapy, is effective in people who have HR+, HER2- early breast cancer that has a high risk of recurrence and who have had their tumour removed by surgery.

A worldwide trial, led by the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, found that abemaciclib given with hormone therapy cut the risk of cancer returning by 32 per cent compared to hormone therapy alone. It could help up to 4,000 women a year.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and although the prognosis for this form of the disease is generally positive, it could spread and become incurable in 20 to 30 per cent of patients. Every year, 50,000 women in England are diagnosed with breast cancer. (File image) 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and although the prognosis for this form of the disease is generally positive, it could spread and become incurable in 20 to 30 per cent of patients. Every year, 50,000 women in England are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Abemaciclib blocks proteins responsible for stimulating cancer cells to divide and grow. It usually costs £2,950 for 56 tablets, but its American manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has agreed to give the NHS an undisclosed discount.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said: ‘The fear of breast cancer returning or spreading to other parts of their body and becoming incurable can cause considerable anxiety for so many women and their loved ones. It’s now important clinicians discuss this new treatment and the risks and benefits with eligible patients.’

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