Abemaciclib: reduces risk of breast cancer recurrence, now available on NHS

Author: Jess Batten - Communications Officer - June 30, 2022

Research

On June 17th 2022, an article from The Guardian described the announcement that Abemaciclib, a drug proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in certain patients, has been given provisional approval by NICE for routine use by NHS England.

Abemaciclib, also known by the trade name Verzenios, is a type of targeted therapy drug that is used alongside hormone therapy to stop the growth and spread of breast cancer. The drug is suitable for those that have already undergone surgery with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-positive early breast cancer at high risk of recurrence.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have said that, if ratified, their approval of Abemaciclib in combination with hormone therapy will set to benefit around 4,000 people per year from this step-change in treatment for early breast cancer.

We asked Dr Sacha Howell, Senior Clinical Lecturer and one of our experts, for his thoughts:

‘This is excellent news for patients with high risk early ER+ Her2- breast cancer. Abemaciclib, when combined with adjuvant endocrine therapy, reduces the chance of recurrent cancer by one third.

There are some side effects with the treatment, most notably diarrhoea and fatigue for which many patients will require anti-diarrhoea medication.

This is a group of patients who would otherwise be having endocrine therapy alone, at the point of transitioning from active hospital based treatment, moving forwards to a more normal life.

This new treatment requires monthly visits to the oncology centre for the first 6 months and 3 monthly thereafter for a total of 2 years, which combined with the side effects, will have additional impacts on this transition and quality of life.

However, this is a significant advance and will hopefully translate to more women surviving breast cancer in the near future.’

Here you can find more information about Abemaciclib, how it is taken and the side effects of the drug.

You can read NICE’s announcement here, and the full article from The Guardian here.