Patients suffering from a rare form of pancreatic cancer have been offered a lifeline that could double their survival chances.
The drug sunitinib is the first treatment to be licensed for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NET) in the last 25 years.
It was approved for the disease by European regulators after tests revealed it increased survival time from 5.5 months to 11.4 months - with no evidence of worsening symptoms.
While full data on overall survival is not available, the trend so far demonstrates that patients on sunitinib have less than half the death rate of those who received a placebo.
Pancreatic NET develops in the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas. The disease affects up to 240 people in the UK each year, typically between the ages of 40 and 60.
Dr Juan Valle, University of Manchester and Christie NHS Foundation Trust medical oncologist, said: “After years of working with few treatment options, sunitinib provides new hope for patients living with this difficult to treat disease.”
Sunitinib, sold under the brand name Sutent, is already licensed in the UK for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer.