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New non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer fighting-treatment approved by SMC

Yesterday, a pioneering new cancer treatment for the fight against non-Hodgkin lymphoma was approved by the Scottish Medicines Consortium – a great move which could lead to the treatment being used across the UK.

Thousands of Scottish patients suffering from the disease could have a better quality of life after the radical treatment was approved yesterday.

The procedure, which involves the injection of the antibody MabThera (rituximab). Rituximab was previously discovered by American researchers back in May as a treatment for both non-Hodgkin lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

The drug, which was being investigated for its effect against the two different types of cancer was found to be effective in about one-third of the 58 patients who participated in the study. The drug obstructs an enzyme which is known to be important during cell division, which aids the spread of cancer cells, and produces a significant treatment against the aggressive lymphoma in patients when used for between 7 and 21 days.

Currently, patients have to suffer a gruelling almost four-hour procedure to inject the antibody slowly into the bloodstream. However, with this new jab the method is quicker, easier, less painful and also cheaper, saving the NHS in Scotland more than £500,000 each year.

Yesterday, healthcare professionals said the move could ease pressure on NHS resources.
Dr David Meiklejohn – a haematologist at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital, said: “This will bring massive improvements in patient’s quality of life. People have to come to hospital and spend significant amounts of time in the haematology day unit. But with the rituximab skin injections, it only takes 15 minutes. People can now go about their normal business much more easily because they don’t have to hang about the hospital. We’re also hoping that we might be able to deliver some sort of system where people won’t have to come to hospital at all.”

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