The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that a drug called everolimus (Afinitor) should not be used by the NHS to treat a specific type of secondary breast cancer.

Secondary breast cancer occurs when cancer cells from the breast have spread to other parts of the body such as the bones lungs liver or brain. While drugs can be used to control secondary breast cancer often for several years it cannot be cured.

Responding to the news Rachel Rawson Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care said: ‘We recognise that decisions about approval of cancer drugs are based on many complex factors including absolute gains in overall survival and impact on quality of life but this rejection of everolimus for patients with secondary breast cancer will be extremely disappointing news for those living with the disease who have limited treatment options.’

What is everolimus?

Everolimus also known by its brand name Afinitor is a type of targeted therapy. Targeted therapies block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with the biology of the cancer cells.

Everolimus can be used to treat post-menopausal women with ER positive HER2 negative recurrent or secondary breast cancer in combination with exemestane whose cancer has progressed or recurred when taking the hormone therapy drugs letrozole or anastrozole.

Does this mean the drug won’t be available?

NICE’s decision not to recommend everolimus means it won’t be routinely prescribed by doctors in the NHS. However the drug’s manufacturer says that everolimus may be available to people in England only through the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).

Information about secondary breast cancer

You can find more information on treatments for secondary breast cancer and living with secondary breast cancer on our website.

Breast Cancer Care’s free and confidential Helpline is available to anyone with questions about secondary breast cancer – call 0808 800 6000 for more information.

Read Breast Cancer Care’s comment on NICE’s decision.