New jab cuts hours spent in hospital for blood cancer patients
23:02 GMT, 8 December 2012
Thousands of patients with blood cancer will no longer be forced to sit in hospital for hours while receiving a key drug treatment, new research shows.
Of almost 7,000 patients diagnosed with follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) every year, more than 5,000 will receive a drug called MabThera.
Until now, patients had to stay in hospital for two hours while this drug was administered slowly through a drip.
New jab: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients can now be treated with a simple injection
But a new study released today shows MabThera can be given to patients in a single jab, which will reduce treatment times from two hours to five minutes and will save thousands of pounds in NHS time.
Dr Andrew Davies, consultant in medical oncology at the University of Southampton, who was involved in the trial, said: ‘In the near future, patients will benefit from shorter, more convenient and potentially less complicated hospital visits.
‘The greatly reduced administration time is a big plus for NHL patients, but also has the potential to ease the capacity burden in busy chemotherapy day units and allow more patients to be treated.’
Less waiting: The jab will cut hours off hospital stays for patients who previously had to receive the drug through drip
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer that affects the body’s lymphatic system and reduces its ability to fight infection. Follicular lymphoma attacks one specific type of infection-fighting cell produced in the bone marrow called B-cells. Most sufferers are diagnosed in their 60s and more women than men are affected.
At the moment, most sufferers will receive a six-month course of chemotherapy. This is administered once every three weeks via a hospital drip in a process that can take up to two hours.
Immediately afterwards, MabThera is also administered by drip for a further two hours.
After this cycle of treatment ends, patients often need an additional two years of MabThera, given once every eight weeks.
The new research, funded by Roche, the drugs giant behind MabThera, and unveiled at the American Society of Hematology conference in Atlanta today, shows that MabThera is as effective and safe when given to patients in the form of an injection.