The NHS has announced that thousands of people will benefit from the extension of ‘COVID-friendly’ cancer treatments which can be taken at home.

Since April, approximately 8,000 people have benefitted from treatment swaps, to enable cancer treatment to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 250,000 people beginning treatment for cancer since the start of the pandemic.

The NHS will continue to fund effective and ‘less risky treatment[s]’ for patients during the pandemic, with access to these drugs now extended until summer and potentially continuing until the end of March 2022.

Among the options available are targeted hormone therapies such as enzalutamide (Xtandi; Astellas/Pfizer) for prostate cancer and broadened use of lenalidomide (Revlimid; Bristol Myers Squibb) for myeloma.

Some ovarian cancer patients will also be able to receive trametinib (Mekinist; Novartis) as a tablet alternative to chemotherapy, to help reduce the impact on their immune systems.

“Cancer has been a priority throughout the pandemic which is why NHS staff have fast-tracked patient access to more convenient and kinder treatments to provide as many people as possible with safe and effective care, even as the NHS cared for more than 380,000 people seriously ill with COVID-19,” said Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer.

“Extending the use of ‘Covid friendly’ treatments for cancer is another example of how we are embracing the full range of treatment options and bringing the NHS to patients at home in many cases,” he added.