Biological Therapies are also known as Monoclonal
Antibodies. These drugs have been shown to improve treatment
outcomes when given in conjunction with conventional chemotherapy
Biological Therapies are only available on the NHS in limited
circumstances, including as part of a clinical trial, after being
successfully applied for through the PCT, or, in the case of
Cetuximab in the 1st line treatment of metastatic colorectal
treatment in certain clearly defined criteria.
Patients can discuss their suitability for these treatments and
likelihood of obtaining them through the NHS, with their
oncologist. They are available privately.
Biological Therapies include:
Cetuximab (Erbitux) - Known as a monoclonal
antibody or biological agent. Not a conventional chemotherapy but a
drug that targets the process of tumour growth. Erbitux can be
administered on its own or in combination with Irinotecan. Patients
must express the 'K- Ras' wild type gene to be suitable for this
treatment. Currently approved by NICE in limited circumstances.
Bevacizumab (Avastin) - Also a monoclonal
antibody or biological agent, it works by reducing the blood supply
to the tumour. Currently not approved by NICE, but may been made
available by PCTs through the new interim cancer drugs fund in
Panitumimab (Vectibix) - Works in a similar way
to Cetuximab and is suitable for patients expressing the K-Ras wild
type gene and the EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) which it
binds to and blocks signals that stimulate growth of cancer cells.
This drug is given on its own and is used where there are no more