Ayrshire: NHS patient delighted after cancer drug approved
An Ayrshire woman who was diagnosed with kidney cancer after she mentioned back pain to her doctor has welcomed the approval of a drug to help reduce the chance of it coming back.
Chrisann McGill, 59, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2018 and said finding out she had cancer was a “huge shock”.
Around 100 patients a year in Scotland will receive pembralizumab, which is available for the first time through NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC).
The drug was given to patients at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Center in Glasgow for 12 months after kidney surgery to remove cancerous tissue.
“You realize that every moment is precious, and you appreciate everyone in your life more,” Chrisann said.
“I have been healthy all my life. I rarely went to the doctor, so it was quite a shock that my back pain – which I had mentioned simply as a doctor’s note – eventually led to a diagnosis and subsequent treatment.’
Ms. McGill joined the Keynote-564 trial at Beatson, which was one of 213 hospitals worldwide testing the drug.
“I jumped at the chance to attend the Keynote 564 trial. On the one hand, it meant I was receiving regular ongoing treatment and follow-up, and it gave me confidence as I recovered from surgery,” she added.
“On the other hand, it’s a real assessment of these clinical trials and the added value they bring to me and other patients in the long term.”
Now cancer-free, Ms McGill praised Beatson staff for their support during an “emotionally difficult” time.
“The nurses and staff at Beatson were wonderful. It was an emotionally difficult time for me, but they were there all the way, answering any questions and the care that came with the trial was fantastic,” she added.
Dr Balaji Venugopal, Consultant Medical Oncology and Emeritus Beatson Senior Lecturer in Clinical Medicine, led the study at NHSGGC.
He welcomed the news that the Scottish Medical Consortium had approved the use of pembrolizumab and said trials had shown that patients taking it had a significantly lower risk of their cancer coming back.
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