THE chairman of a charity and bladder cancer patient from Odiham has praised the first and only immunotherapy which has been recommended by the National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE).

Pembrolizumab has been recommended by NICE to aid urothelial carcinoma patients, the main type of bladder cancer, when prior platinum-containing chemotherapy fails.

According to MSD (the trade name of Merck & Co) when in an advanced state, bladder cancer is associated with poor outcomes; approximately 10 per cent of patients survive more than five years.

Despite this, research spending on bladder cancer lags way behind other cancers, in 2013 to 2014 only 0.6 per cent of dedicated research funding was given to bladder cancer.

An advocate to get this new treatment recommended is chair of Action Bladder Cancer UK and Odiham resident Allen Knight.

Mr Knight said: “Bladder cancer is often given a Cinderella status. It is encouraging to see more treatment options being available to people with urothelial carcinomas and as an organisation we are thoroughly excited as to what this means for the future.”

Mr Knight was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2010, aged 49, having never smoked or worked with industrial chemicals.

He was lucky in that it hadn't gone too far and he was successfully treated. But bladder cancer can come back and it returned after nine months.

This was a real wake up call so Mr Knight decided to get involved with Action Bladder Cancer UK and also sold his business shortly after.

Although he had trained as a rocket scientist, Mr Knight had set up and been running a successful management consultancy business for nearly 20 years.

It is these skills and a passion to improve bladder cancer diagnosis and treatment that he brings to ABCUK.

He is also a patient representative on a number of bladder cancer clinical trials and a board member for the National Institute for Health Research, reviewing which research applications should be funded.

Andrew Winterbottom, Founder and Director of Fight Bladder Cancer, added: “This means urothelial cancer, a long-neglected and ignored cancer, finally has a new treatment option which could provide a step change in the patient’s options.”