Thousands of cancer patients will receive new treatments at home in a drive to spare them the need of going to hospital.
The NHS is making available more than 50 drugs which can be administered at home including those for prostate cancer, bowel cancer, leukaemia and a form of blood cancer.
Many of these treatments are in effect ‘swaps’ for chemotherapy or other medicines which would normally be administered in hospital, often requiring several visits a month.
The NHS is making available more than 50 drugs which can be administered at home, including those for prostate cancer, bowel cancer and leukaemia (file photo)
NHS England said they are safer for patients – reducing the risk that they will contract coronavirus in hospital – as well as being more convenient, often with fewer side effects.
Two of the treatments are enzalutamide and abiraterone for prostate cancer which can be taken by men at home instead of having chemotherapy. In fact trials have shown they may be even more effective than chemotherapy with some results suggesting they reduce the risk of dying within three years by a third.
Another is Venetoclax pills for acute myeloid leukaemia which are now being prescribed as an alternative to more toxic standard chemotherapy, which often causes severe side effects such nausea and fatigue.
Some bowel cancer patients are being given a medicine called nivolumab instead of chemotherapy, a type of immunotherapy which teaches the body’s own immune system to detect and fight tumours.
NHS England said the treatments are safer for patients, reducing the risk they will contract coronavirus in hospital, as well as being more convenient (file photo)
Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said: ‘Since the first case of Covid in England six months ago, NHS staff have fast tracked new, innovative ways of working so that other services, including A&E, cancer and maternity, could continue safely for patients and it is thanks to these incredible efforts that 65,000 people could start treatment for cancer during the pandemic.’
He added: ‘We are now adopting new, kinder treatment options which are not only effective but safer for use during the Covid-19 pandemic and more convenient for thousands of patients, who can take medication at home or be given medicines with less harmful effects on their immune system.’
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘This is encouraging news for some patients, who could now go ahead with their treatment, when it might have previously been on hold due to Covid-19.
‘In recent years, successful price negotiations between the NHS and drug manufacturers have significantly improved patients’ access to new cancer medicines, but cancer doesn’t stop because of a pandemic, so it’s fantastic to see this work continuing throughout this difficult period.’