New drug approved for patients with rare form of bile duct cancer.

Posted on: 25th July 2021

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended a life-extending medicine, pemigatinib, for patients with a rare form of bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma).

The medicine can be used for treating advanced or metastatic bile duct cancer with a fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) fusion or rearrangement.

Pemigatinib is an option for adults whose cancer has progressed after chemotherapy and around 50 people will be eligible for treatment with it. Evidence suggests that pemigatinib works better than current treatments at this stage of cancer.

The British Liver Trust welcomes the news that there is now another much-needed treatment option for people with this form of bile duct cancer which has a poor survival outcome.

What is pemigatinib and what does this mean for bile duct cancer patients?

The NICE decision to approve pemigatinib gives eligible patients in England and Wales access to an alternative treatment (in tablet form) to more chemotherapy. It opens the door for bile duct cancer patients to have molecular testing to determine if they might be eligible for this treatment, which will, in turn, deepen our understanding of the condition.

About bile duct cancer

Bile duct cancer is a rare cancer that is found anywhere in the bile ducts. The bile ducts are small tubes that connect different organs and are part of the digestive system.

Cancer in the bile ducts can block the flow of bile between the liver and the bowel. This causes bile to flow back into the blood and body tissues. This can cause jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and other symptoms such as itchy skin.