Beating bowel cancer together

NHS rolls Out ‘COVID-friendly’ bowel cancer treatment for advanced disease

The NHS have announced today that a bowel cancer treatment which was granted permission for use during the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be available to patients.

A £160 million fund is now available to provide drugs and treatment for patients that have a lesser impact on their immune system, or are able to provide other benefits such as oral tablets that can be taken from home, resulting in fewer hospital trips.

Back in May, NICE produced rapid guidance allowing the drug, Nivolumab, to be used instead of chemotherapy for bowel cancer patients with newly diagnosed advanced disease and whose cancers have a specific genetic fingerprint. Patients who are classed as either MSI high and/or have deficient mis-match repair genes could access the drug.

Nivolumab is an immunotherapy drug that helps your immune system find and kill cancer cells.

It is not yet approved by NICE for bowel cancer (it is currently under review) but is approved for other cancers.  Using Nivolumab rather than chemotherapy will hopefully reduce the number of hospital appointments people need, and reduce the chances of people developing neutropenia, which makes them much more likely to develop infections.

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive, Bowel Cancer UK said: “It is encouraging to see how the NHS and industry have worked together during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide access for bowel cancer treatment that can minimize the impact on patients’ immune systems.”

“We hope this nimble approach to treatment access will result in quicker decision making in the future, should treatments be deemed safe and effective for patients.”

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