Womb cancer patients to be offered ‘lifeline’ treatment that can stop spread for seven months

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A patient who has been taking the treatment for the past two years said if she hadn’t she doesn’t think she “would be alive today”

Hundreds of women with advanced womb cancer are to be offered a “lifeline” treatment which can halt disease progression for twice as long as chemotherapy.

NHS England said it is rolling out a life-extending combination of drugs that 500 to 700 women will benefit from every year.

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It has agreed a commercial deal with two manufacturers for the drugs, which will be used in combination to treat advanced endometrial cancer.

Women offered the treatment will take two pills of lenvatinib, manufactured by Eisai UK, once a day and pembrolizumab, manufactured by MSD UK, given intravenously every three or six weeks.

The drugs work together to stimulate the body’s immune system and kill off cancer cell growth.

Trials have shown that lenvatinib and pembrolizumab, when used together, can give women more time without their cancer progressing and a longer overall survival.

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Women to be offered ‘lifeline’ treatment that slows cancer spread. (Photo: PA) Women to be offered ‘lifeline’ treatment that slows cancer spread. (Photo: PA)
Women to be offered ‘lifeline’ treatment that slows cancer spread. (Photo: PA) | PA

Standard chemotherapy halts disease progression for three and a half months but the combination of these drugs can stop cancer spread for seven months. Women on chemotherapy appeared to survive for 12 months but those who took the drug survived 19 months.

The treatment combination was initially rejected in draft guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) but it has now been approved for NHS use.

Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said: “There are currently few treatments for advanced endometrial cancer so this combination therapy is an important addition, providing women with the hope of valuable additional time with their loved ones.”

Advanced womb cancer patient Grace Teeling, 33, who is originally from Bristol, said she had a “really good response” after receiving the treatment for the past two years.

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She said there has currently been “no evidence of cancer on my recent scans” and it has enabled her to “thrive despite having an advanced and incurable cancer diagnosis.”

She added: “I am able to work, travel, socialise and exercise, including paddleboarding, which I may not have been able to do on chemotherapy. I am delighted others will now be able to access this treatment as I don’t think I would be alive today if I hadn’t.”

NHS national cancer director Professor Peter Johnson said the drugs can help patients “live longer and better”, white Professor Emma Crosbie, chairwoman of trustees of Peaches Womb Cancer Trust, described the new treatment as “innovative”.

She added: “Every year, many people are facing a diagnosis of advanced or recurrent womb cancer, and the frightening reality of very few treatment options that can improve their survival and quality of life.

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“Those affected by womb cancer deserve more treatment options, but we hope that this is just the first step towards wider availability of more effective treatment options for those affected by this devastating cancer.”

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