NICE gives green light to the first ‘first-line’ liver cancer treatment in over a decade

Posted on: 8th November 2018

British Liver Trust has today welcomed the announcement that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has approved the liver cancer drug Lenvima® (lenvatinib) for routine use in the NHS in England and Wales. This is a new first-line treatment for patients with advanced Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common type of liver cancer.

It is estimated that more than 4000 men and women across the England and Wales will now be eligible for treatment with lenvatinib.  Clinical trials suggest that the drug can halt progression of liver cancer for an extra three months compared to the alternative treatment option.

Judi Rhys, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust said,  “Unfortunately, it is very common in the UK for people to be diagnosed with HCC at a very late stage, as people are often asymptomatic in the early stages of disease and it is challenging to detect. While liver cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the UK, outcomes for patients with advanced disease continues to be poor. Patients with HCC, the most common form of primary liver cancer, have a 5-year survival rate of only 12% and a diagnosis is truly devastating for patients

“NICE’s approval of lenvatinib in the first-line setting is therefore a significant step for patients across England and Wales who have had very limited treatment options in the past. We look forward to other parts of the UK considering access to this important new therapy.”

Rates of liver cancer in the UK are projected to increase of 38% by 2035.  While the incidence of liver cancer is on the rise, five-year relative survival rates in England remains below the European average.  HCC accounts for nearly 90% of primary liver cancer cases in the UK, and is often unresectable by surgery, systemic therapies are an increasingly important option.  Treatment options for unresectable HCC in the UK are limited and the prognosis is poor, making this an area of high unmet need.

The British Liver Trust is the largest UK liver charity for adults and leads the fight against liver disease and liver cancer.  The charity reaches over a million people each year; raising awareness of the risk factors of liver disease and providing vital advice to help people improve their liver health.  It provides patients with up to date information and support including a free nurse-led helpline and online community.