England’s NICE Approves New Thyroid Cancer Treatments

England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recently approved three new thyroid cancer treatments for their National Health Service (NHS). The new treatments provide a wider variety of options to patients, and reportedly improve quality of life among patients. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here.

The NICE decision comes after receiving a wealth of feedback from patients regarding each drug. Rose Gray of Cancer Research UK says that this method of decision making highlights the value of including patients in the process. It shows the merits basing policy on feedback from those affected by the very diseases we seek to treat.

As part of this decisions, NICE moves cabozantinib (Cometriq), and sorafenib (Nexavar) from the Cancer Drugs Fund. NICE also approved lenvatinib (Lenvima) as the third drug. Previously, acquiring Lenvatanib required “compassionate grounds.”

Rose Gray further commented that these moves by NICE represent good news for patients.

NICE recommended cabozantinib for the treatment of medullary thyroid cancer. Specifically, the service marked the drug as useful for when the cancer appears to have spread or become inoperable. Roughly 80 patients receive this type of diagnosis each year in England.

According to clinical trials, cabozantinib may be able to delay progression of cancer. Cabozantinib represents one of only two treatments for inoperable medullary thyroid cancer.

NICE approved both of the other drugs for treating the more common differentiated thyroid cancer. When other forms of treatment fail, such as surgery or radioactive iodine, lenvatinib and sorafenib become the only two treatments remaining. Estimates suggest that nearly 200 patients could benefit from these drugs each year.

Both lenvatinib and sorafenib would normally be considered to ineffective for their costs to be approved for the NHS. NICE continued to approve the drugs, however, due once more to the feedback they received form patients and reports of improved quality of life.

“Treatment options for these types of thyroid cancer are limited,” said Mirella Marlow, acting director of the NICE center for health technology evaluation. “…It is important that we are able to give patients much needed access to alternatives to best supportive care at this stage of their disease.” Marlow shares the notion that these drugs will be able to extend the time patients have remaining, and improve patient lives.


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