PATIENTS with an advanced form of breast cancer could live longer thanks to a new drug which has been trialled in Portsmouth.
Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, has been testing the drug Perjeta for the past two years.
It can help women with an aggressive form of breast cancer, known as HER2-positive.
HER2 is a type of protein on breast cancer cells, which helps the cancer to grow.
If there is a lot of protein, then this is known as HER2-positive breast cancer, which around 25 per cent of women are diagnosed with.
Studies have shown that patients on Perjeta can live on average for six months longer, without their cancer getting worse.
From today, the drug has been approved for use in the UK, alongside ongoing treatment the patient is having.
Around 12 patients have been testing the drug at QA, which was chosen because it has a good record of recruitment patients for trials and is an established research unit.
Dr Caroline Archer, consultant medical oncologist, has been leading the project at QA.
She said: ‘The approval of Perjeta today will come as welcome news for patients in Portsmouth and Hampshire with this difficult-to-treat and very aggressive disease.
‘To have a new treatment option that can extend lives and control cancer for longer than the current gold standard of care is very exciting for both patients and clinicians alike.’
Perjeta is an antibody treatment and works with chemotherapy.
The drug is given in the form of an injection every three weeks.
Each injection costs up to £2,500.
The treatment is not automatically available on the NHS, but funding will be asked for on a patient-by-patient basis.
Dr Archer added: ‘This drug can be used when patients first present, or relapse with HER2-positive breast cancer.
‘We want to start using it as soon as possible on patients, especially as we have seen the benefits already.’
Dr Rachel Greig from the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity has also welcomed the news.
She said: ‘We’ve been watching this closely as the benefits to patients are very clear.
‘This drug has been proven to make a difference to some women with advanced breast cancer.’