NICE recommends topotecan for cervical cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer drug topotecan will now be available on the NHS for the treatment of advanced or recurring cervical cancer.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued final guidance on the drug, recommending that it be used in combination with the platinum-based chemotherapy drug cisplatin for women with recurrent or stage IVB cervical cancer - where the cancer has spread to other organs - who have not previously received cisplatin.

Topotecan is a type of drug called a topoisomerase 1 inhibitor, which blocks the enzyme topoisomerase 1.

This enzyme is involved in the repair of DNA during cell division; without it, the DNA becomes damaged and the cell dies.

Dr Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre, said that NICE's Appraisal Committee had considered all available evidence on the effectiveness of topotecan, as well as hearing from patients about the importance of access to a number of different treatment options.

"The committee concluded that - for women with recurrent cervical cancer and those with stage IVB cervical cancer, where cancerous cells have spread to distant organs such as the lungs, and who have not previously received cisplatin - the cost of topotecan in relation to how well it works is an effective use of NHS resources," she confirmed.

Professor Jonathan Ledermann, Cancer Research UK's expert in gynaecological cancers, said: "There are very few treatment options for women with cervical cancer that has come back or spread to other parts of the body. We're pleased that NICE has approved topotecan, which can make an important difference for some women in this situation, adding vital months to their life.

"We welcome any decision that makes cancer drugs available to patients who will benefit from them."