New Cancer Drugs Fund benefiting thousands of patients and releasing £140million for the NHS

Since the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) opened in July 2016,  nearly 15,700 patients have benefited from 52 drugs treating 81 different types of cancer. Of these patients, around 5,000 have received treatment sooner than they would have under the previous system.

AS NHS England has also secured discounts on on eight of the treatments previously funded via the old CDF this is expected to generate savings for the NHS of around £140m over the next five years.

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The new system means the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) appraisal process now starts much earlier for newly referred drugs, with the aim of publishing draft guidance before drugs receive their licence, and then final guidance to be issued within 90 days of that.

Patients also benefit from new cancer drugs at least four months earlier under the reformed CDF than was previously the case.  All cancer treatments recommended by NICE, whether for routine commissioning or the CDF are now available to patients as soon as positive draft guidance is published by NICE.

 

Further information can be found at  NHS England

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Cancer targets: how has NHS performance changed over time?

With the NHS cancer target that patients should start treatment within 62 days of urgent referral having only been met for one month in the last three years, why is performance against this target worse than against others? | Nuffield Trust

This new QualityWatch blog from Jessica Morris of the Nuffield Trust looks at why NHS performance against the two month GP referral to first treatment for cancer target is worse than the other targets.

Read the full blog here

New way to target the growth of breast cancer cells

Researchers have found a new way of halting the growth of breast cancer cells. They hope that their discoveries can be further developed into a new way of treating breast cancer, and possibly other types of cancer. | Nature Communications | via ScienceDaily

An international team of researchers led from Karolinska Institutet and Science for Life Laboratory in Sweden have found a new way of halting the growth of breast cancer cells. In their study, which is published in Nature Communications, the researchers explore a new way to starve cancer cells from their molecular energy source.

In the study, the researchers confirmed that hormone-driven breast cancer cells use a newly discovered protein, NUDT5, to produce energy in the cell nucleus. This nuclear energy source provides energy for the expression of genes that drive cancer growth.

In the next stage of their research, they developed a molecule able to block NUDT5 activity and thus deprive the cancer cells of their means of nuclear energy production. They demonstrated that this new molecule can stop the growth of breast cancer cells in isolated laboratory experiments.

Full detail at ScienceDaily

Full reference: Page, B et al. | Targeted NUDT5 inhibitors block hormone signaling in breast cancer cells | Nature Communications |  2018; 9 (1)

 

Non-surgical cancer treatments workforce

Full team ahead: understanding the UK non-surgical cancer treatments workforce. Cancer Research UK 

This report from Cancer Research UK investigates the current and future needs, capacity, and skills of the non-surgical oncology workforce to provide optimal treatment to the UK population.  This is the first time UK-wide data has been collected on the non-surgical oncology workforce as a whole and it identifies gaps in the data. Interviews with workforce groups were carried out to confirm the accuracy of data collection done by health services and professional bodies.

The report ‘Full team ahead’ outlines the findings and recommendations from this research.

Full team ahead

Additional link: Royal College of Radiologists press release

NICE approves breakthrough breast cancer drugs

NICE confirms that it will recommend that breakthrough cancer drugs palbociclib and ribociclib be provided on the NHS for women with advanced breast cancer| story via OnMedica

There are around 45,000 new diagnosis of breast cancer each year in England and it is estimated that around 8,000 of these people would be eligible for treatment with either palbociclib or ribociclib.

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In draft guidance, NICE said breast cancer patients should have routine access to these two life extending drugs after a new deal with their manufacturing companies who agreed to lower the price and who gave more evidence for their effectiveness.

Palbociclib (Ibrance) from Pfizer and ribociclib (Kisqali) from Norvatis, are recommended for people with hormone receptor (HR) positive, HER2 negative locally advanced or secondary breast cancer.

NICE said that although there were some uncertainties on how long they extend the life expectancy of people with this type of breast cancer, these promising new drugs were found to stall the growth of cancer for an extra 10 months on average.

Breast cancer can return 20 years after treatment

Risk of certain breast cancers coming back remains for at least 20 years after treatment | New England Journal of Medicine | Story via Cancer Research UK

Research, carried out by The Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group collected data from more than 60,000 women who had been diagnosed with hormone sensitive breast cancer (usually called oestrogen receptor positive or ER+ breast cancer) between 1976 and 2011.

All of the patients were given a type of anti-oestrogen therapy for five years as part of their treatment. At the five year mark the women had no signs that their breast cancer had come back and treatment ended.

The figures, published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that out of the women included in the study, 11,000 had their cancer come back in another part of the body such as the bone, liver and lung in the 15 years after stopping treatment. They also showed that the risk of cancer coming back remained the same year on year from when they stopped taking the anti-oestrogen drugs to 15 years later.

Full story at Cancer Research UK

Full reference: Pan, H. et al. (2017) 20-Year Risks of Breast-Cancer Recurrence after Stopping Endocrine Therapy at 5 YearsNew England Journal of Medicine.

 

Will cancer ever be cured?

Cancer Reseach UK:  Science Surgery series  

Answering this question isn’t a simple case of ‘yes’ or ‘no’, because it depends on the way that the term ‘cancer’ is defined. The word ‘cancer’ is singular, but it reflects more than just one disease. It should actually be viewed as an umbrella term for a collection of hundreds of different diseases. They all share the fundamental characteristic of rogue cells growing out of control, but each type of cancer, and each person’s individual cancer, is unique and comes with its own set of challenges.

That’s why it’s very unlikely that there will be one single cure that can wipe out all cancers. But, as explained in the short animation below, that doesn’t mean individual cases of cancer can’t be cured:

Read more at Cancer Research UK