NHS rolls out breast cancer jab that dramatically cuts hospital time

The NHS it is rolling out an injection that cuts the amount of time breast cancer patients spend in hospital from two and a half hours to around five minutes.

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

The NHS said that over 3,600 new patients each year will benefit from the treatment, as well as others who will switch from the treatment they are on to the single injection.

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

The injection also 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.

Care providers were told they could start offering the treatment back in February.

The agreement between the health service, NICE and the manufacturer means it comes at no extra cost to the NHS.

“It feels absolutely amazing to be one of the first people to receive this treatment through the NHS and it really could not have come at a better time as lockdown lifts and I can stop shielding,” said Paula Lamb, 51, who is one of the first patients to receive the treatment. “Having a five-minute treatment means I’ll have more time to get out on walks, for my gardening, knitting and to help my daughter practise her cricket skills. It’s a real life-changer.”

NHS national clinical director for cancer, Peter Johnson, said: “The NHS has continued to adopt new treatments rapidly throughout the pandemic, to improve cancer care for patients. 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.”

He added: “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.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “Approval of Phesgo being used on the NHS in England is fantastic news as thousands of women with HER2 positive breast cancer will now benefit from a quicker and kinder treatment method.

She added: “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.”

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