Icon - New Drug Offers Hope to Kidney Cancer Patients

New Drug Offers Hope to Kidney Cancer Patients

The Federal Government recently announcedthat OPDIVO (nivolumab) has been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme as second-line treatment for patients with advanced (stage 4) clear cell kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer is the 9th most common cancer in Australia with around 3,500 people diagnosed every year. Clear cell carcinoma is the most common form of kidney cancer, and accounts for approximately 75% of kidney cancer cases. 

By the time it gets to an advanced stage, kidney cancer has spread widely outside the kidney, to the abdominal cavity, the adrenal glands, distant lymph nodes or to other organs, such as the lungs, liver, bones or brain. Sadly, this stage of cancer is unlikely to be cured, however treatments can help to make life as long and as normal as possible for patients.

While surgery is usually the first course of treatment for those with kidney cancer, unfortunately it does not cure people with advanced kidney cancer, meaning additional pharmaceutical treatment may then be recommended. This is also true of patients who have undergone surgery, only to have the cancer recur.

Pharmaceutical therapies include ‘tyrosine kinase’ inhibitors (TKIs) and ‘mammalian target of rapamycin’ (mTOR) inhibitors. More recently, immunotherapies have also become an option. These therapies have revolutionised the treatment of advanced cancers by turning them into more of a manageable ‘chronic disease’and prolonging life expectancy.  

At Kidney Health Australia, we often hear from frustrated patients in Australia who are aware of immunotherapies but do not have access to a subsidised, government supported treatment option (such as those available in the United States and major European countries), even though they have clearly shown to be effective in improving their outcome and quality of life.

As the peak body for kidney disease, Kidney Health Australia has advocated for an effective, alternative, and equitable treatment option for people with advanced kidney cancer in Australia, which should include listing such drugs on the PBS so they are accessible and affordable for all patients. We are delighted by this recent development, and commend the Federal Government for recognising this crucial need and approving the PBS listing quickly.

If you or someone you love has advanced kidney cancer, we urge you to discuss your suitability for OPDIVO with your doctor–access to this treatment via the PBS could have a significant impact on your quality of life, without the financial burden. For more information on this treatment visit OPDIVO.

Do you have kidney cancer questions, or just need to talk to someone who is informed and empathetic? You can contact Kidney Health Australia’s ‘Kidney Health Information Service’ (KHIS) any time by calling 1800 454 363, or emailing khis@kidney.org.au to speak to a trained healthcare professional.

Learn more about kidney cancer through our fact sheets here




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