England rolls out 5-minute breast cancer treatment across health service

London: An injection that cuts the amount of time breast cancer patients spend in hospital from two and a half hours to as little as five minutes is being rolled out as a new, more effective treatment, NHS England said on Sunday.

Breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy will be offered a new combined treatment called PHESGO, which is injected and takes as little as five minutes to prepare and administer, compared with two infusions that can take up to two and a half hours.

More than 3,600 new patients each year are expected to benefit from the faster treatment, as well as others who will switch from the treatment they are on to the single injection, following an NHS deal with the manufacturer.

This new injection, which can substantially cut treatment time for people with breast cancer, is the latest in a series of changes which have meant the NHS has been able to deliver vital cancer treatment while keeping patients safe from Covid, said Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer.

I am delighted that this is now available to people having breast cancer treatment, limiting the time they need to spend in hospital and giving the NHS another way to continue treating as many cancer patients as possible, as we have done throughout the pandemic, he said.

PHESGO is a fixed-dose combination of pertuzumab with trastuzumab that previously would have been given as separate IV infusions.

The injection will be offered to eligible people with HER2-positive breast cancer, which accounts for 15 per cent of all breast cancers in England, and can be given alongside chemotherapy or on its own.

The five-minute jab significantly cuts the Covid infection risk for cancer patients by reducing the amount of time spent in hospital and frees up time for clinicians in chemotherapy units.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: Reducing the time patients need to spend in hospital, this more efficient treatment method also promises to free up precious time for healthcare professionals when the NHS is already under unprecedented strain due to Covid-19.

Today's announcement reflects the latest of continued advances in breast cancer treatment, and now we hope to see Roche and NHS decision-makers working together to ensure Phesgo is rapidly made available across all of the UK so that even more patients and healthcare professionals alike can reap its benefits. National Health Service (NHS) providers were told they could begin offering the treatment in February and the agreement between the health service, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and manufacturer Roche means it comes at no extra cost to the NHS.

The Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the need to use novel approaches that help to minimise pressure on our healthcare system. We are delighted that people in England will continue to benefit from the latest advancements in cancer care, and this news shows how we are advancing science to achieve this, said Richard Eaton, Breast Cancer Lead at Roche mProducts Limited.

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