Stephen Johnston

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

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved a new treatment for breast cancer patients at high risk of recurrence, following a trial led by Professor Stephen Johnston, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Head of the Breast Unit at The Royal Marsden. 

Abemaciclib is a targeted drug used in combination with hormone therapy to treat high-risk HR+ and HER2- breast cancer patients. The treatment is taken following standard therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

NICE’s approval was based on results from the Phase 3 monarchE trial, which involved more than 5,600 patients in 38 countries. 

Led by Royal Marsden researchers, the trial found a 32% reduction in the recurrence of breast cancer when abemaciclib was used alongside standard hormone therapy, compared with treatments that used hormone therapy alone. 

Emma Sola, 48, was diagnosed with stage 3 HR+ breast cancer in 2018. After multiple treatments at her local hospital, she was accepted on to the monarchE trial at The Royal Marsden in February 2019. 

She said: “I was keen to join the trial and took abemaciclib for 18 months. Knowing that my risk of recurrence is lower because I’ve had this drug is incredibly reassuring. It’s like an extra layer of security.”

Professor Johnston, Lead Global Principal Investigator for the trial, said: “It’s a privilege to see the compelling results from the monarchE trial translate into a new treatment option. This drug represents a significant breakthrough and I’m delighted that it will be available to help eligible patients.”