'New hope' for some bowel cancer patients as treatment approved in Scotland

An “important milestone” has been hailed in cancer care as the first targeted treatment for bowel cancer with BRAF mutations has been approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

The non-chemo therapy, encorafenib plus cetuximab, will be used by the NHS to treat adults who have had previous systematic treatment, as current chemo-based care tends not to have high response rates.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland, with 3,700 new cases in 2017, and the second most common cause of cancer death, with around 1,600 deaths each year.

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Dr Janet Graham, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, called the approval an “important milestone”.

The drug approval has been hailed as a milestone in Bowel Cancer treatment.

“Given cytotoxic chemotherapy is associated with suppression of the immune system, the availability of this chemotherapy-free regimen is particularly pertinent as we continue to treat Scottish cancer patients amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We welcome the SMC’s acceptance of this targeted, combination therapy.

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"Treatment options for the roughly one in ten people who are diagnosed with metastatic BRAFV600E bowel cancer have been extremely limited to date. We worked alongside clinicians and patients to submit evidence to the SMC consultation, and we’re very pleased that the benefits have been recognised. This will give new hope to Scottish patients that could benefit.”

Laura McMullin, of drug manufacturer Pierre Fabre, said: “We are delighted that the SMC has recognised encorafenib plus cetuximab as a valuable treatment regimen for this high medical-need population.

“The acceptance is testament to our commitment to the colorectal cancer community and we hope that as many eligible patients as possible will benefit moving forwards.”

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