A new five-minute breast cancer jab is being rolled out across the country in a bid to dramatically reduce the amount of time patients spend in hospital.
More than 3,600 women a year are expected to benefit from the injection, which combines two drugs currently administered as separate intravenous infusions.
The Phesgo treatment will be offered to breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy who have the HER2-positive form of the disease, about 15 per cent of all breast cancer sufferers.
Currently they are forced to spend roughly two-and-a-half hours in hospital to receive the treatment.
Although the NHS plans to roll out the jab in hospitals, its quick and portable format raises the prospect of patients being treated with it at home in the future.
Depending on the patient, Phesgo can be administered alongside chemotherapy or on its own.
It follows a year of huge disruption for cancer patients as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with thousands of diagnoses and treatments missed or delayed.
A 'quicker and kinder' treatment method
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of the charity Breast Cancer Now, said the approval of Phesgo on the NHS was “fantastic news” for thousands of women who will benefit from a “quicker and kinder” treatment method.
She said: “Reducing the time patients need to spend in hospital, this more efficient treatment method also promises to free up precious time for healthcare professionals when the NHS is already under unprecedented strain due to Covid-19.”
Phesgo is a fixed-dose combination of the drugs pertuzumab with trastuzumab – both of which would have previously been given as separate intravenous infusions.
It is used to treat all stages of HER2-positive breast cancer, and can be prepared and administered in under five minutes.
Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said: “I am delighted that this is now available to people having breast cancer treatment, limiting the time they need to spend in hospital and giving the NHS another way to continue treating as many cancer patients as possible, as we have done throughout the pandemic.”
Paula Lamb, 51, was one of the first patients to receive the treatment having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014.
The housewife, from Newton-le-Willows in St Helens, said: “It feels absolutely amazing to be one of the first people to receive this treatment through the NHS and it really could not have come at a better time as lockdown lifts and I can stop shielding.”
She said: “I’m currently on a combination of medications which take about an hour-and-a-half to two hours to administer all together, and I have to go into hospital to have them every three weeks.
“Having a five-minute treatment means I’ll have more time to get out on walks, for my gardening, knitting and to help my daughter practise her cricket skills. It’s a real life-changer.”