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Hundreds of patients to get life-extending lung cancer drug on the NHS

Hundreds of people with a form of the most common form of lung cancer could survive twice as long with the disease, thanks to a drug now available on the NHS.

The drug, durvalumab, can double the overall time someone can survive with an aggressive form of lung cancer from two and a half to five years.

It stops the cancer from getting worse for more than two years – significantly longer than treatment with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which can only hold the disease at bay for around six months. This increases overall survival time and gives patients more precious moments with their loved ones.

Now the drug has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the NHS has sealed a deal with manufacturer AstraZeneca to begin rolling it out. The new treatment will be offered to more than 550 patients a year with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have already undergone both chemotherapy and radiotherapy concurrently.

The drug is given to patients every four weeks and only takes an hour to administer. It is delivered as an infusion into a vein and uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells with a specific protein known as PD-L1 by attaching to them. The immune system then attacks and kills these cells.

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