25th November 2021

First targeted treatment for rare form of lung cancer recommended by NICE

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today [25 November 2021] recommended the first targeted treatment for people with RET fusion-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Selpercatinib is an oral treatment that can shrink or prevent cancer cell growth for this rare form of lung cancer, which occur in 1-2% of non-small cell lung cancer cases.

Initial research of 105 previously treated RET fusion-positive patients with NSCLC saw 64% responded to treatment, with an average duration of response – the length of time a tumour continues respond to treatment without the cancer growing or spreading – of 17.5 months.

The treatment works by inhibiting the activity of certain abnormal RET proteins that act as oncogenic drivers – the mutations that are responsible for both the initiation and maintenance of the cancer.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, welcomes the news:

“It is fantastic to see the approval of this new targeted therapy in the treatment of adults with RET fusion-positive non-small cell lung cancer. This shows the ongoing progress being made to treat the disease and offers those with RET fusion-positive NSCLC a new line of treatment. It also gives hope to those living with this specific form of lung cancer.”

Dr Yvonne Summers, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust shares the same enthusiasm for the news:

“Today’s news from NICE means that NSCLC patients in England and Wales living with RET-driven cancers will now have access to the first effective therapy that directly targets RET alterations.

Having seen patients in my care benefit directly from this treatment I am delighted that the decision from NICE will enable more people to receive this targeted treatment through the NHS.”

The treatment will now be available to patients with RET fusion-positive advanced non-small-cell lung cancer who need systemic therapy after immunotherapy, platinum-based chemotherapy or both via the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

For more information about RET fusion-positive non-small cell lung cancer and targeted therapy, contact our Ask the Nurse helpline on 0800 358 7200 or email lungcancerhelp@roycastle.org.