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NICE has recommended use of tucatinib as an option to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread in people who have already tried 2 or more anti-HER2 treatments.

The move is set to benefit around 400 people with advanced breast cancer.

Tucatinib works by blocking a specific area of the HER2 gene in cancer cells, which stops the cells from growing and spreading. The medicine is taken as two 150 mg tablets twice daily along with anti-cancer medicines trastuzumab and capecitabine.

Helen Knight, programme director in the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Unfortunately there is no cure for breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. There is also a lack of additional anti‑HER2 treatments which can postpone the need for chemotherapy, especially for people whose cancer has spread to their brain because their treatment options are even more limited.

“Tucatinib is a promising, innovative new treatment that has the potential to increase the length of time before the disease gets worse and how long people live overall. And because tucatinib is able to cross an intact blood-brain barrier it offers people whose cancer has spread to their brain real hope of extending their lives and improving their quality of life. We are therefore pleased to be able to recommend it for routine use in the NHS.”

Around 47,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in England and around 1 in 5 breast cancers are HER2 positive.

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