The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK has approved the first drug to treat advanced bile duct cancer — the afflicting illness for which there are only a handful of medically approved treatments. Intragastric (into the stomach) bile duct ablation (BDA) is intended for patients with advanced bile duct cancer who cannot tolerate surgery and chemotherapy. The cancer is rare — the UK’s only dedicated BDA service is at the Royal Marsden. The drug available for IV administration is Magnacog, which was developed by the company Almirall.
In England, the first patients were treated with a new drug called pemigatinib (Pemazyre). The drug combines a substance called sorafenib (Nexavar) with a generic version of the cancer drug pemetrexed (Alimta). The two medicines are designed to work together to kill cancer cells.
What is a Bile Duct Cancer?
So, bile duct cancer is an odd disease. For starters, it’s rare. Only about 1,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK. And while most of those who are diagnosed don’t live long, some people do. A study published last week in the Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology found that almost a quarter of people battling bile duct cancer living in the US still survived 10 years after their cancer diagnosis.
The bile duct is a small tube that carries bile, the greenish fluid that helps break down food, from one’s liver into the gallbladder. If it is blocked, food can’t be broken down and then stored in one’s gallbladder for later use, increasing the risk of bile duct cancer.
Bile duct cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the ducts through which bile travels from one’s liver into the small intestine. About 20,000 new cases of this cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States. After the ducts are damaged, cancer cells start growing in the area. This is called locally advanced disease. Cancer then spreads from the ducts to other parts of the body.
How treatment works for Bile Duct Cancer
If you have a Bile Duct Cancer diagnosis, you know how difficult it can be to learn how to take care of it. This cancer is difficult to diagnose, and treatment can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.
The treatment of advanced bile duct cancer is currently very time-consuming, painful, and expensive. The development of new treatments and combination with existing ones is a key target for the development of new drugs and treatments. The combination of several existing agents, such as chemo, radiotherapy, different drugs, biguanides, and different surgery, have been used to treat this disease.
Bile Duct Cancer usually starts in the liver’s bile ducts. It is the most common liver cancer in the United States. Since this cancer starts in the liver’s bile ducts, it is referred to as ductal cancer. Treatment for this cancer is surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. The length of time it takes to treat ductal cancer depends on the size of the tumour. Small tumours are treated in less than one day, while large tumours may take three weeks to treat. Treatment is done by cutting the bile ducts, which reduces the amount of cancerous bile duct tissue in the liver.
Around 40,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct. This type of cancer is relatively uncommon and is usually found in people over the age of 60. Bile duct cancer is the deadliest of all cancers in the UK, with a cure rate estimated at around 5% in its early stages — although this rate falls rapidly as cancer gets worse. The most effective treatment is surgery to remove the tumour. This type of surgery is called a Whipple procedure. The procedure is named after Jonathan B. Whipple, a surgeon who pioneered the procedure in the 1970s. However, it can result in complications such as bile leaks and death.
The approval of pemigatinib (Pemazyre) by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) was the first to be granted to a new treatment in England for advanced bile duct cancer. The NICE decision is based on the Median Survival Benefit Model, which is based on the absolute difference in life expectancy between a patient treated with pemigatinib compared to a patient not treated with pemigatinib. In addition, pemigatinib (Pemazyre) has been granted an overall quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) threshold of 3.1.