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Thousands of men in the UK with advanced prostate cancer are to benefit from a new drug after it was approved for NHS use.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has recommended enzalutamide as an option for treating some types of prostate cancer.
A spokesperson for Prostate Cancer UK said: “Enzulatamide will be made permanently available for men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while men in Scotland will have access to a similar treatment called abiraterone.”
Experts welcomed the move which they said would be especially beneficial to those who cannot have chemotherapy.
Enzalutamide, which patients can take at home without intravenous medication or a medical setting, is one of the “Covid-friendly” cancer drugs adopted by NHS England during the pandemic as “swaps” for existing drugs because they are less likely to damage the immune system or cause hospital visits.
However, the new draft guidance from Nice is expected to open access to the drug – also known as Xtandi and made by Astellas Pharma – for broader use among an estimated 8,500 men.
The drug can be used with androgen deprivation therapy as an option for treating hormone-sensitive metastatic prostate cancer in adults, according to the guidance.
It works by blocking the impact of testosterone on prostate cancer cells. Without the hormone, the cells cannot grow – even if they have spread to other parts of the body.
Clinical trials have found that the treatment slows the worsening of the disease and extends patients’ lifespans.
Prof Peter Johnson, the clinical director for cancer for the NHS in England, hailed the drug’s approval as “one of the lasting legacies of the NHS’s response to the pandemic” which in the future he said would benefit thousands more people.
He said: “Previously made available as part of the NHS’s package of ‘Covid-friendly’ cancer treatments, this life-extending drug is the latest that the NHS will now offer permanently to patients with hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.
“Throughout the last year, the NHS has been offering people with cancer treatment options that are not only effective but safer and more convenient for use during the pandemic, allowing many to take medication at home or be given medicines with less harmful effects on their immune system.”
Angela Culhane, the chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This is fantastic news for thousands of men with advanced prostate cancer, especially those who have additional illnesses that make them unsuitable for chemotherapy.
“It finally guarantees them access to a treatment which is just as effective as chemotherapy and can give them back precious time with their families.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Thousands of UK men to benefit after NHS approves prostate cancer drug | Prostate cancer