New drug approved for patients in Scotland with primary liver cancer

Posted on: 21st July 2021

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has recommended the use of a new medicine, atezolizumab (Tecentriq), for patients in Scotland with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC liver cancer) whose cancer cannot be removed by surgery or it has spread to other parts of the body.

The British Liver Trust gave evidence to the SMC on behalf of patients and welcomes the news that there is now another new option for people with this hard-to-treat cancer.

What is atezolizumab and what does this mean for liver cancer patients in Scotland?

Atezolizumab is an immunotherapy that stimulates a person’s immune system (the body’s natural defence system) to fight the cancer. If you have HCC and your healthcare professional thinks that atezolizumab is the right medicine for you, you should be able to have the treatment on the NHS in Scotland.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust, says: “HCC is a devastating disease. Sadly, in recent years there has been little progress in terms of innovation and new treatment options for the condition.”

“We are delighted that the SMC has agreed to the use of this drug for patients in Scotland which gives patients and their loved ones another much-needed treatment option.”

NICE has already approved the drug for use in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Patients can read more about atezolizumab on the SMC’s website or on Macmillan’s website. For clinicians, the SMC has published more detailed advice here.

About liver cancer in Scotland

Liver cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer mortality in Scotland, with the disease killing 600 people in 2017[1]. Rates of liver cancer mortality in Scotland have increased by 59% from 2008 to 2018[2] and the five-year relative survival rate in remains below the European average.[3]


[1] Cancer | Cancer Statistics | Liver Cancer | Health Topics | ISD Scotland

[2]Cancer | Cancer Statistics | Liver Cancer | Health Topics | ISD Scotland

[3] Liver cancer survival statistics | Cancer Research UK