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‘Durvalumab’ can improve life span of lung cancer patients

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The drug, ‘durvalumab’, can double the overall time someone can survive with an aggressive form of lung cancer from two-and-a-half to five years.

It has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS has sealed a deal with manufacturer AstraZeneca to begin rolling it out.

The new treatment will be offered to more than 550 patients a year with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have already undergone both chemotherapy and radiotherapy concurrently.

NHS said: “The drug can stop the cancer from getting worse for more than two years – significantly longer than treatment with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can only hold the disease at bay for around six months. This increases overall survival time and gives patients more precious moments with their loved ones.”

Dame Cally Palmer, national cancer director for NHS England, said: “We are resolute in our ambition to fight the devastating effects of cancer and new pioneering treatments like durvalumab are a vital lifeline for people living with cancer – giving them more precious time with family and friends.

“Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and it can affect people of all walks of life. The NHS has continued to prioritise cancer care throughout the pandemic and I urge anyone with concerns about symptoms they might be experiencing to come forward without delay and get checked, either at your GP or at one of our mobile lung cancer scanning units”.

AstraZeneca’s Durvalumab was previously offered to NHS patients in 2019 through the Cancer Drugs Fund to enable further data to be collected on the drug’s clinical and cost effectiveness.

This additional data has enabled NICE to make a final recommendation this week on its routine use in the NHS. In just over five years, more than 80,000 patients have benefitted from faster access to one of more than 90 different cancer drugs.

Durvalumab is the latest in a series of new treatments for lung cancer made available for NHS patients, including revolutionary ‘death star’ mutation drug, sotorasib, the targeted tablet treatment, mobocertinib, and new immunotherapy, atezolizumab; all of which were fast-tracked to NHS patients following agreements reached with individual pharmaceutical companies.

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