There's joy and relief at Norfolk as surgeons at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have been given the green signal to make available the breast cancer drug Herceptin to women who test positive for her-2 gene.
"We made the business case and submitted it to the therapeutic advisory groups, and the primary care trusts have backed the package," confirmed Simon Pain, consultant breast surgeon at the N&N. "About one in five women with breast cancer will be sensitive to Herceptin. We will test every breast cancer patient for it and if they are sensitive to it and it needs prescribing, then we will prescribe it." Some guidelines have been put into place for the women to be eligible to take the drug. Firstly a woman must test positive for the HER-2 receptor. But since only 20 percent carry this receptors, it is felt that this decision will only benefit a minority. "I think the results from Herceptin are probably the most significant and impressive from any single drug for breast cancer. And I think for those one in five women this is a great leap forward and those tested will be offered the drug if deemed appropriate," Pain said. "We have already been using Herceptin for some time for patients with advanced disease but the evidence shows it can be of use in early stages post-op." As of now, Herceptin is still not licensed for use in early stages of breast cancer and NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) is yet to clarify the matter.