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A new treatment for patients with advanced or metastatic oesophageal cancer, that cannot be treated with surgery, has been approved for use in the NHS, meaning that those with this condition could have an increased life expectancy.  Oesophageal cancer is considered one of the six less survivable cancers with only one in five patients diagnosed with stage four disease surviving beyond a year. 

The KeyNote-590 trial Trial found that Pembrolizumab (sold under the brand name Keytruda), when given with specific types of chemotherapy, could reduce the risk of death in certain patients by 38% and their risk of disease progression or death by 49% when compared to chemotherapy alone.  In addition, twice as many patients were alive two years or more after starting treatment with the combination, compared to those who received only chemo (31% versus 15% respectively) with an average overall survival of 13.5 months versus 9.4 months.  

This new treatment option approved by NICE will impact around 1600 people in England and Wales. 

HCUK welcome these advances, especially as patients in this position have had such limited options for quite some time.  Chairman and patient advocate, Mimi McCord explains:

“The prognosis for late stage oesophageal cancer patients is appalling.  Surgery is not a viable option for these patients so treatment was severely limited.   To now have Pembrolizumab combined with chemotherapy for suitable patients is a welcome and significant step forward”.