New treatment for some breast cancer patients to be offered on NHS following study led by Royal Marsden researchers

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has approved a new treatment for HR+ and HER2- breast cancer patients at high risk of recurrence, following results from a study led by Royal Marsden researchers.

Professor Stephen Johnston
Professor Stephen Johnston, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Head of The Breast Unit at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Eligible patients will now have access to abemaciclib on the NHS, a type of targeted drug, in combination with hormone therapy. The treatment is taken following standard therapies, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, to reduce the risk of recurrence.

This approval was based on results from the Phase 3 monarchE trial which involved over 5,600 patients from 38 countries, with The Royal Marsden as the lead centre for this large international study. The trial found a 32% reduction in recurrence of cancer when abemaciclib for two years was added to the standard hormone therapy compared to the hormone therapy alone. Over the first three years of the study, 17.1% of patients in the control group had a relapse of their cancer compared to 11.4% of those in the abemaciclib group.

Professor Stephen Johnston, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Head of The Breast Unit at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Professor of Breast Cancer Medicine at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Lead Global Principal Investigator for the monarchE trial, said:

“It’s a privilege to see the compelling results from the monarchE trial, which was a huge international effort, translate into a new treatment option for HR+ and HER2- breast cancer patients who have a high risk of their cancer recurring. Despite previously receiving the very best standard of care treatment, this high risk node-positive group represents about 5,000 breast cancer patients each year who are at a much higher risk of their disease returning. For them abemaciclib is a significant breakthrough and is the first new treatment for this patient group in 20 years. I’m delighted that it will be available on the NHS for eligible patients to help reduce their risk of recurrence.”

“The NICE recommendation establishes abemaciclib as the first CDK4/6 inhibitor to be made available in the NHS for the treatment of HR+, HER2-, high risk early breast cancer and is the first successful addition to adjuvant ET in nearly two decades.”

The monarchE trial was funded by Eli Lilly pharmaceutical.

Breast cancer research at The Royal Marsden is funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and National Institute for Health and Care Research.

Read more information about the results of the monarchE trial.