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NHS rolls out new immunotherapy for womb cancer

NICE has approved a new immunotherapy which, when paired with chemotherapy, can slow the spread of certain forms of womb cancer.

NICE has approved a new immunotherapy which, when paired with chemotherapy, can slow the spread of certain forms of womb cancer.

Dostarlimab (Jemperli) will be offered to women who have advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer with high microsatellite instability or mismatch repair deficiency, which are present in around a quarter of womb cancers.

NHS England estimates that 150-200 women with endometrial cancer will be eligible for the treatment each year, providing hundreds of women with valuable extra time before their disease progresses.

Dostarlimab: mode of action and administration

Dostarlimab is a monoclonal antibody known as a ‘checkpoint inhibitor’, which works by attaching to PD-L1 on the surface of the cancer cells, helping the body’s immune system to detect and attack them.

It is administered via IV every three weeks alongside chemotherapy for six cycles. Each treatment cycle takes just 30 minutes, with the treatment continuing every six weeks (for up to three years) in those that respond.

Clinical trials have shown that dostarlimab alongside standard chemotherapy prevents cancer from progressing in roughly two thirds (64%) of patients. This compares to just 24% in those treated with chemotherapy alone.

Further research is now being undertaken to determine whether dostarlimab could be made available for routine use in the future. This will depend on the data collected about long-term benefits.

NHS England have already begun offering the treatment to those who meet the criteria.

Womb cancer affects more than 9,000 women every year

Womb cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the UK – with around 9,400 women diagnosed with womb cancer every year. Endometrial cancer is the most common type of womb cancer followed by uterine sarcoma.

Advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer has a significant effect on both life expectancy and quality of life, and there are currently limited treatment options available.

Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation said: “We are focused on delivering what matters most and getting care to those who need it fast, so I am delighted this treatment option will be made quickly available through the Cancer Drugs Fund, enabling people with this type of cancer to enjoy more precious time with their families and loved ones.”

Dr Chloe Barr, Trustee and Advocacy Lead at Peaches Womb Cancer Trust has welcomed the new treatment and says it will provide options for patients currently facing the “frightening reality of very few effective anti-cancer treatments.”

“We hope that this is just the first step towards wider availability of more effective first-line treatment options for those affected by this devastating cancer,” she added.

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