New treatment for cervical cancer

A new immunotherapy drug is being offered to hundreds of women in the UK with advanced cervical cancer.

The treatment, pembrolizumab, is the first new drug to tackle cervical cancer to be released in 14 years. 

According to clinical trial data, it can extend patients’ lives by up to eight months when issued alongside chemotherapy. 

Who does cervical cancer affect? 

Currently, cervical cancer affects just over 2,600 women in the UK and is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 34.

How does pembrolizumab work? 

Pembrolizumab is administered by injection to target and destroy certain protein, which in turn, allows the drug to eliminate cancerous cells. 

When will it be available? 

Having been given the green light from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the immunotherapy drug is now available to all individuals who aren’t responding well to existing treatments. 

NHS England’s Director of Specialised Commissioning and interim Commercial Medicines Director, John Stewart, said: “After nearly 15 years without a new treatment for this type of advanced cervical cancer, this first immunotherapy marks a significant step forward that will provide hundreds of people with precious time with their loved ones.

“This is the 243rd treatment offered through the Cancer Drugs Fund that enables the NHS to provide faster access to cutting-edge cancer treatments for patients, while further data about its long term clinical benefit can be collected”.

NHS National Director for Cancer Dame Cally Palmer said: “Making this life-extending drug available today is a significant moment for women with advanced cervical cancer, which disproportionately affects younger women, allowing them to spend more precious time with loved ones and enjoy a better and longer quality of life.

“This has been made possible thanks to the Cancer Drugs Fund, which allows the NHS to get early access to the latest cancer treatments, and is just the latest example of NHS England using its commercial capabilities to deliver on the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to provide patients with the latest cutting-edge treatments for cancer.”

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