AN INJECTION which 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 across the country by NHS England.
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 will benefit from the treatment each year, as well as others who will switch from the treatment they are on to the single injection, following an NHS deal with the manufacturer.
The injection 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 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.
The announcement is the latest in a series of innovations in cancer care during the pandemic, including Covid-secure surgery hubs that were set up across the country, and £160 million invested by NHS England in ‘Covid-friendly’ cancer drugs, that treat patients without having such a big impact on their immune system or offer other benefits, such as fewer hospital visits.
Since the start of the pandemic, 228,000 people have started NHS treatment for cancer, 95 per cent of whom did so within a month. Hospitals across England have also carried out more than two cancer procedures for every patient they treated for coronavirus last year.
Care providers were told they could begin offering the treatment in February, and the agreement between the health service, NICE and the manufacturer means it comes at no extra cost to the NHS.
Paula Lamb, 51, who is a housewife from Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside is one of the first patients to receive the treatment. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, and then developed secondary lung and liver cancers and is receiving treatment at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.