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NICE approves denosumab for bone cancer

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Thousands of cancer patients whose disease has spread to the bone are to benefit from a new drug which is to be made available on the NHS.

Denosumab (Xgeva) helps prevent bone complications in people whose cancer has spread from its original site.

These complications include bone fractures, spinal compression - when the spinal cord is compressed by the bone - and bone complications requiring radiotherapy or surgery.

Symptoms include pain as well as weakening and eventual destruction of the bone.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published its final draft guidance which recommends the drug for certain groups of cancer patients whose disease has spread, most commonly to the spine, pelvis, hip, upper leg bones and skull.

The conditions include bone tumours from breast cancer and other solid tumours not relating to the breast or prostate, such as lung or kidney cancer.

Tara Beaumont, clinical nurse specialist for secondary breast cancer patients at Breast Cancer Care, said: “The NICE approval of denosumab marks a positive milestone for secondary breast cancer patient choice and quality of life, which we warmly welcome.

“People whose breast cancer has spread to their bones can experience a reduction in quality of life, and currently have limited treatment options, so making denosumab available through the NHS means that there is another option for people for whom bisphosphonates are not appropriate.

“As denosumab can be given as an injection under the skin rather than intravenously (into the vein), it also offers patients a different route of administration, which may be more convenient.

“We hope that this announcement paves the way for similar positive developments in secondary breast cancer treatment and raises awareness of the importance of quality of life and symptom management for those living with incurable cancer.”

If no appeals are lodged against the guidance, it will be published later this year and patients will be able to get the treatment on the NHS.

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