A new breast cancer jab that will take just five minutes to administer will not only cut down on hospital staff time – but also reduce the COVID infection risk for patients.
The treatment, called Phesgo, is being rolled out across England by the NHS and will be offered to breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
It will be available to people with HER2-positive breast cancer, which accounts for 15% of all such cancers.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breast Cancer Now, described the NHS approval of Phesgo as “fantastic news”.
She said thousands of women would benefit from a “quicker and kinder” treatment method.
“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,” added Baroness Morgan.
More than 3,600 new patients each year will benefit from the treatment, NHS England said.
Phesgo is a fixed-dose combination of the drugs pertuzumab with trastuzumab – both of which would have previously been given as separate intravenous infusions.
It is used to treat all stages of HER2-positive breast cancer in combination with chemotherapy.
The treatment takes as little as five minutes to prepare and administer, compared with two infusions that can take up to two-and-a-half hours, NHS England said.
The news comes after Breast Cancer Now warned that nearly 11,000 people in the UK could be living with undiagnosed breast cancer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The charity said fewer referrals and less access to treatment, coupled with a pause to breast screening programmes, meant 10,700 fewer people were diagnosed with breast cancer between March and December 2020 than it would have expected.
Paula Lamb, from Newton-le-Willows in St Helens, was one of the first patients to receive the new treatment, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, and described it as a “life-changer”.
She said: “It feels absolutely amazing… and it really could not have come at a better time as lockdown lifts and I can stop shielding.
“I’m currently on a combination of medications which take about an hour-and-a-half to two hours to administer all together, and I have to go into hospital to have them every three weeks.
“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.”