Thousands of NHS patients with myeloma to be offered pill that blocks ...

Thousands of NHS patients with myeloma to be offered pill that blocks ...
Thousands of NHS patients with myeloma to be offered pill that blocks ...

A daily pill that blocks the production of cancer cells is set to transform the lives of thousands of NHS patients with the deadliest type of blood cancer, keeping the disease at bay for at least five years.

The drug will be offered to patients shortly after diagnosis, doubling the average time the cancer takes to return, according to stunning new results from British medical trials.

Once the disease does recur, those who take the pill see their life extended by an average of two years. Health chiefs’ recent approval of the pill, called lenalidomide, marks the end of a lengthy battle by charity Myeloma UK and specialists to get it green-lighted for patients newly diagnosed with myeloma, one of the deadliest forms of blood cancer.

Professor Graham Jackson, oncologist at Newcastle Hospitals Trust who has studied the drug, described the decision by regulator NICE as a massive step forward for treatment of the disease, which kills more than 3,000 Britons every year.

Precious time: Stephanie Evans, 44, with husband Mark. She was one of the first patients to be given lenalidomide after it was approved for people newly diagnosed with myeloma

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Precious time: Stephanie Evans, 44, with husband Mark. She was one of the first patients to be given lenalidomide after it was approved for people newly diagnosed with myeloma

Weird science

Take your brolly... it's raining fish

It might not literally rain cats and dogs – but it can rain fish. Every year in Honduras a shower of tiny fish – including sardines – fall from the sky.

People in the central American country have traditionally believed such incidents were a sign from the heavens, but there is a logical, scientific explanation.

The incidents follow a tornado, after fish on the surface of the water have been whipped up by the wind, pulled into the storm and launched high into the sky. As the speed of wind gradually decreases, the creatures begin to fall.

Scientists report roughly 40 ‘fish rain’ incidents each year.

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Roughly 5,700 people are diagnosed with myeloma each year. The condition, which causes malfunctioning white blood cells and can destroy the immune system, is incurable. Sufferers often have bleaker prognoses than those with the two other blood cancers – leukaemia and lymphoma. Only half of those diagnosed with myeloma will survive for five years.

The condition develops when plasma cells, a type of white blood cell vital for producing immune system antibodies, multiply uncontrollably. These cells crowd out healthy ones, resulting in the body’s ability to fight infection failing.

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When diagnosed, most patients are given a combination of drugs, including potent chemotherapy.

More than a third of them – mostly younger or healthier older patients –

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