8 November 2022

Responding, Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now said:

“It’s fantastic news that immunotherapy pembrolizumab has been recommended for routine use on the NHS as a treatment option* for an estimated 1,600 eligible patients with primary triple negative breast cancer.*

“This less common but often more aggressive type of breast cancer is more common in women with an inherited BRCA gene, women aged under 40 and black women, and the risk of triple negative breast cancer returning and spreading to other parts of the body in the first few years after treatment is higher than for other types of breast cancer. Yet, for far too long, patients with this type of breast cancer have faced the frightening reality of limited treatment options.

“This new treatment can potentially lead to any detectable cancer disappearing by the time of surgery, meaning patients will then possibly face less invasive, breast-conserving surgery. Furthermore, by significantly reducing the likelihood of breast cancer recurring or spreading to other parts of the body where it becomes incurable secondary breast cancer, this treatment brings precious hope of more lives potentially being saved from this devastating disease. 

“This treatment must now urgently be assessed by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) so that even more women across the UK have the chance to benefit from it. 

“Anyone seeking information and support can speak to our expert nurses by calling our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”



1 When used in combination with chemotherapy before surgery and then used alone after surgery.

2 Pembrolizumab (also known as Keytruda) is recommend by NICE in combination with chemotherapy for neoadjuvant treatment (before surgery) and then alone as an adjuvant treatment (after surgery) for patients with triple negative, primary breast cancer at high risk of recurrence or locally advanced breast cancer.