A BREAST surgeon and a former patient have backed a new, simpler way to administer a life-saving breast cancer drug which should save time, money and a lot of stress.
The Herceptin jab was given the go-ahead by NHS England this week after it was first endorsed for use in the UK by the European Medicines Agency. The changes will mean patients with HER2 positive breast cancer get a five-minute injection instead of having to wait up to 90 minutes while the drug is administered via a drip.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was unable to confirm whether the new method would be introduced locally. However, Steven Thrush, a breast cancer consultant at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and the man driving forward plans for a one-stop shop breast care unit at 220 Newtown Road, Worcester, backed the drug.
“There is a potential benefit to the patient and benefit in a saving to the NHS in respect to nurse’s time. We are looking at getting it, but will need to go through the commissioners – so it may take a bit of time.”
NHS England has approved the speedier method for widespread use from Tuesday which experts say will not only free up patient time, but increase capacity in hospital chemotherapy suites. At the moment, Herceptin is given using a process called infusion. The medication is slowly fed into the body via a drip attached to a blood vessel.
This is usually carried out at a hospital or clinic and a session typically lasts about an hour.
Susie Coleman, aged 35, of Warndon Villages, Worcester, had to have the drug every three weeks for a year with most of her sessions in Cheltenham, but some in Worcester. The mother-of-one said: “I think the less time spent in hospital, the better, especially as you can feel very ill with the chemotherapy. If they can speed up the process, that is great.”
Mrs Coleman said the new system, if adopted, would mean patients could literally just pop in for the injection which could be very useful, especially when they had a busy schedule.
Mrs Coleman, a PE teacher in Redditch, sometimes had to take the day off work for the treatment. She also believes that the change will mean more people can be seen. When she had her treatment patients could wait up to an hour if the clinics were running late.