Patients with advanced cervical cancer in England have been given the chance of accessing treatment with Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab) on the National Health Service, after it became the latest medicine to be added to the country's Cancer Drugs Fund.

The decision, by NHS England’s Chemotherapy Clinical Reference Group, was made on the back of clinical trials showing that the drug can extend the lives of women with advanced cervical cancer by nearly four months compared to chemotherapy alone.

Over 2,900 women in the UK were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2010, and the prognosis for those with advanced disease is poor.

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said he hopes the Avastin's availability on the CDF - which could benefit 500 women a year - will give more patients facing non-curative treatment the chance of "extended survival without impacting on quality of life”.

The CDF, which is managed by NHS England, currently provides an extra £200 million each year to give cancer patients in England access to drugs that are not routinely funded by their local NHS.

According to NHS England, Avastin's addition to the CDF means it is "routinely available" in England before any other country in the world.