England will be the first country to use the new drug Avastin, which has already been used for treating colon cancer and other contained cancer on trial to prolong the lives of patients with advanced cervical cancer. Around 500 women per year who are in the last stage of cancer can have their life extended for approximately another valuable 4 months. This may not seem long to the average, middle-aged person, but to a terminal cancer sufferer it could mean they could see a new grandchild be born or simply spend more time with their loved ones.
Even though the drug has yet to receive a proper license for treating cervical cancer, the clinical benefit of Avastin through data from trials have been acknowledged and quickly made available to those in need. After several requests for using the drug from oncologists, and their positive feedbacks of the trial results, have convinced those experts who work in NHS England to publicly make the drug approved medicines for cervical cancer.
In UK, there are approximately 3,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year- and that number is increasing year after year. Being the most common life-threatening cancer in women whose age is below 35, it is responsible for the death of about an additional 1,000 women annually, as belated diagnosis is popular. Simply put, cervical cancer is a tumour situated at the neck of the womb which can be painful at times and may have varied associated symptoms. The common treatment of this cancer is surgery, radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. However, such treatment is futile if the diagnose takes place too late and the cancer has reached its advanced stage; from this point onwards the diagnosis is extremely poor concerning mortality rates. Amongst all the patients who responded to Avastin, the overall duration of survival has been extended from 13.3 months to 17 months without negatively influencing the quality of life. It is considered as a positive thing because the later stage of cervical cancer usually makes the prognosis much less accurate.
According to the chairman of Chemotherapy CRG, Professor Peter Clark, the inclusion of this drug Avastin into the list signifies the commitment of NHS England to bring about real benefits to patients from the Cancer Drug Fund, whose value is up to whose value is up to £200 million.
Image credit: Allan Foster