Fantastic news this morning as regorafenib is once again available to patients in England. Since 2015, Sarcoma UK has been campaigning hard to get this life-extending drug back for patients who otherwise may have no further treatment options.
This is a major victory for people living with GIST, the most common type of sarcoma cancer, who now have access to regorafenib through the NHS in England.
We are delighted to get regorafenib back as a treatment option. This approval of this treatment is good news for people whose GIST cannot be removed through an operation. Regorafenib (Stivarga) is used to treat people who have GIST that cannot be operated on or has spread to another part of the body. Typically GIST is treated using the drugs Imatinib and Sunitinib. If these treatments have not worked or have caused bad side effects then regorafenib is an alternative treatment option.
Regorafenib is a targeted cancer drug that can shrink the cancer or stop it growing for a period of time. It can also stop cancer cells from developing the blood vessels that they need to grow. Excitingly, the drug has relatively few side effects when compared to many other treatments for sarcoma, so people with GIST now have a greater chance of maintaining a high quality of life.
“This is tremendous news for patients living with GIST in England”, says Professor Ian Judson, Trustee at Sarcoma UK and former Head of the Sarcoma Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital. “It draws a line under the uncertainty faced by the hundreds diagnosed each year with GIST as well as those already undergoing treatment. Now patients living with GIST have the vital reassurance that, should they need it, regorafenib is a viable treatment option through the NHS.”
This is the second drug this year that has been approved by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for the treatment of sarcoma. We also campaigned for the approval of olaramutab, which became the first new treatment to be approved by NICE since 2010.
Prof. Judson said he is “delighted we have secured this crucial decision that offers hope to those currently living with GIST. Alongside GIST Support UK, we’ve worked hard to provide evidence and challenge negative decisions since 2014.”
Sarcoma UK is the only cancer charity in the UK focusing on all types of sarcoma. Our mission is to drive awareness of sarcoma, promote early diagnosis and improve patient experience. We offer support to those affected by sarcoma and have funded more than £1.7 million in sarcoma research to date.