Gastro-intestinal cancer patients with advanced colorectal cancer and neuroendocrine tumours will benefit as part of five new cancer listings added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) on 1 December.
These listings alleviate the ‘financial toxicity’ of treatment – where the burden of paying for therapies can cause cancer patients distress, impact their quality of life, or even prevent them from accessing the treatment. Now that these medications are on the PBS, instead of spending up to $23,000 a year patients can access them for just $39.50 a script, or $6.40 a script for concessional patients.
The new listings announced by the Australian Government Department of Health include the oral chemotherapy treatment Lonsurf for advanced colorectal cancer and Somalutine Autogel (lanreotide) for gastroentero-pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).
This announcement is welcome news to patients as it addresses an area of desperate need. In 2018, 17,004 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and it will be the second leading cause of cancer death. Colorectal cancer has a five-year survival rate of just 69%. In comparison, the five-year survival rates for prostate cancer and breast cancer are 95% and 92% respectively.
NETs is a rare form of gastro-intestinal cancer but it is affecting more Australians every year. The incidence of NETs doubled in the period from 1980 to 2006. It is slow-growing and currently incurable when detected at an advanced stage. Treatments like lanreotide can be vital in giving these patients more time.
“The announcement of these new listings is welcome news for many gastro-intestinal cancer patients,” says Russell Conley, CEO of the GI Cancer Institute. “Over 29,800 Australians are diagnosed with a gastro-intestinal cancer every year. These treatments could make life-extending treatments available to patients who could not otherwise afford them.”