15th September 2020

I am Still Here: NICE approves first line treatment for EGFR+ lung cancer

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended the targeted therapy, osimertinib, for adults with untreated locally-advanced or metastatic epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutation-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The decision follows clinical trials which shown the drug provided an overall survival benefit of more than three years when used as a first-line treatment compared to first-generation medicines in the same class.

In addition to this, the clinical data showed the treatment to have a better impact on cancer that has spread to the central nervous system as well as ‘a favourable side effect profile’.

Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:

“It has been an incredibly difficult time for people living with lung cancer, even more than normal so we welcome the news that osimertinib has now been approved for patients with untreated EGFR lung cancer.

We know many patients are already on this treatment, either as part of a clinical trial or as a second line treatment and have seen the positive impact it has had on them and their lives.

At a time when we could all use some good news, this is definitely good news for this cohort of patients.”

Mandy Richardson was diagnosed with EGFR+ lung cancer and brain mets in the summer of 2017. She was able to start on osimertinib through her husband’s private healthcare.

“I was very lucky that this treatment worked instantaneously and within two months all of the tumours showed an extraordinary decrease in size.

I’ve been able to go back to living an absolutely normal life. I play tennis three times a week, I have a dog and a puppy, and I walk for an hour and a half every day. To be honest, I have more from my arthritic knees stopping me doing what I want to than the lung cancer!

Mandy is currently on osimertinib

Mandy recently shared her story as part of the charity’s Still Here campaign, which is in direct response to the impact Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, on lung cancer referral rates.

Paula explains why the campaign is so important:

“During the peak of the pandemic, cancer referral rates were down by 84%. Whilst we are starting to see levels return, lung cancer is amongst to slowest to do so, most likely because of the crossover between some of its symptoms and coronavirus.

Featuring the stories of people who have lost a loved one to lung cancer, our STILL HERE campaign is a stark reminder that lung cancer is in fact still here and time is of the essence when it comes to getting diagnosed.

We know that when it is caught early, it can be cured. We are also seeing that, thanks to advances in treatment like targeted therapies such as osimertinib, people are now living well and for longer with late stage disease, people like Mandy.

But this can only happen once you have that diagnosis so we are urging people to understand and recognise the potential symptoms of lung cancer and encourage those with symptoms to seek medical help throughout the pandemic and even if you live in an area where there is a local lockdown.”

Click here for more information about the Still Here campaign and how you can get involved.