New treatment option recommended by NICE for those with early breast cancer

On the 7th May, NICE published draft guidance recommending the drug trastuzumab emtansine as an option for some people with HER2-positive early breast cancer.

The drug is also known as ‘Kadcycla’, made by Roche.

According to NICE, 7,000 people each year are diagnosed in England with early breast cancer also have HER2-positive disease.

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), is a protein on the surface of cancer cells which makes them grow and divide.

The drug trastuzumab emtansine targets the HER2 receptor to attach to it, which allow the emtansine to enter the cancer cell.

The emtansine then becomes active and kills the cancer cell.

According to NICE, clinical trial evidence ‘shows that in people who still have some cancer cells remaining after chemotherapy to shrink their tumour and HER2-targeted treatment, trastuzumab emtansine increases the time people remain free of disease compared with trastuzumab alone.

‘It is not known if trastuzumab emtansine increases the length of time people live because the final trial results are not yet available.’

The drug costs on average £51,000 per patient for a course of treatment at its full list price.

There has been a confidential discount agreed between the company and the NHS for its patients.

There are around 800 people eligible for treatment under the current NICE guidelines.

Meindert Boysen, deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: 

“Additional treatment options that can increase the amount of time in which people remain free of disease after surgery, and perhaps stop it from coming back altogether, are particularly welcome.  

“We are therefore pleased to be able to recommend that trastuzumab emtansine is made available routinely for people with HER2-positive early breast cancer after surgery.”

NICE’s final guidance on trastuzumab emtansine is due to be published next month.