Over 600 people in England to benefit from new lung cancer treatment

Over 600 people in England to benefit from new lung cancer treatment
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Osimertinib (Tagrisso) is a new lung cancer treatment that will be used for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has begun to spread. It is approved for use in the UK by the Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

More than 600 people in England could benefit from this new lung cancer treatment who have had the surgery to remove their tumour that has errors in a gene called EGFR.

New evidence suggests that the drug could reduce the risk of their cancer coming back after surgery by 80%. However, this data is still being collected, so the full extent of its effectiveness is uncertain.

New lung cancer treatment has real potential

The preferred treatment for individuals with early-stage NSCLC is surgery, as it can potentially be a cure. However, the chances of the disease coming back within five years of surgery is high – even for those with the earliest stages of cancer, nearly half will experience the disease coming back.

Chemotherapy is offered to these patients to help with the prevention of lung cancer returning, but it only provides minimal benefits and produces side effects, so many people decline it.

Osimertinib is the first targeted treatment for these patients that has the potential to give a real benefit. The drug is also a pill that can be taken at home, rather than having to visit a hospital.

“I am delighted we are able to recommend osimertinib within the Cancer Drugs Fund for people with this type of lung cancer,” said Professor Gillian Leng, chief executive at NICE. “Osimertinib shows real potential in being able to stop people’s cancer from recurring following surgery.

For people at this stage of their cancer treatment and with this type of lung cancer, treatment options are extremely limited. Osimertinib is a promising treatment in a new place in the treatment pathway and today’s decision will be welcome news for them and their families.”

The drug could be considered by NHS

Osimertinib works by blocking a molecule made by the EGFR gene. This molecule helps cells in the body to grow. An error in the gene for EGFR can cause cells to grow too much, which can cause cancer. Blocking this molecule in people whose tumours have an error in EGFR can then help to slow or stop their lung cancer from growing or coming back. Around one in ten people with lung cancer in the UK have an error in EGFR. According to NICE, there are around 600 people in England who would be eligible for treatment with osimertinib.

The current evidence from the ADAURA clinical trial shows that lung cancer treatment after surgery using the osimertinib can reduce the risk of the disease coming back by 80%. It may also lower the risk of people dying from their cancer.

However, this evidence is uncertain because the information from the trial was released early. As a result of this, the drug is recommended for use within the Cancer Drugs Fund rather than in routine NHS commissioning.

If further data shows that osimertinib works well and is cost-effective, the drug will be considered for routine use in the NHS. If approved by NICE for use in England, this decision will likely then be adopted in Wales and Northern Ireland, while Scotland has a separate process for reviewing drugs.


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