A CANCER patient has told of benefitting from a treatment which ‘works better than chemotherapy.’

Barbara Bradshaw, 62, from Burnley, who suffers from chronic blood cancer, endured six months of taking gruelling chemotherapy tablets in 2006 to treat the disease.

But the ‘debilitating’ treatment left Mrs Bradshaw, who has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), feeling ‘nauseous, sick and lacking in energy.’

After having no treatment for years, she then went on a trial in 2015 for new drug venetoclax in combination with rituximab.

It saw the mum-of-one Mrs Bradshaw achieve minimal residual disease (MRD) negativity, which is defined as the detection of less than one CLL cell in 10,000 lymphocytes.

It is believed by clinicians that MRD negativity is an important prognostic marker for long-term progression-free survival and as a potential therapeutic goal in CLL.

The MURANO study, which was conducted by pharmaceutical company AbbVie, achieved a significant improvement in progression free survival compared with bendamustine in combination with rituximab.

Mrs Bradshaw said: “I took chemotherapy tablets for six months, five days a month.

“They were very effective and took the cancer cell count down, but they had very debilitating side effects and were horrible and made me feel nauseous and sick.

“I just had no energy.

“I was regularly monitored for a number of years and it was in 2015 when I was offered to take part in a trial for venetoclax with rituximab.

“”I took the venetoclax, which is four tablets taken once daily, for two years, along with one infusion of rituximab every month for four to six months.

“I ended the treatment last year and I feel a lot better..

“There are no side effects and it took all the disease away out of my bone marrow.”

“I will always have CLL as it’s chronic but now I can enjoy my life. It works better than chemotherapy."

Mrs Bradshaw was diagnosed with CLL in 1991 after discovering a painful lump in her neck following a car accident.

She said: “The car accident was a blessing in disguise and ultimately saved my life.

“I went to the doctor with a painful lump in my neck and had suffered a whiplash injury.

“He kind of panicked and referred me to see a specialist for more tests.

“It was then that I was diagnosed with CLL two days before my 36th birthday.

“I was the youngest person my specialist had ever had for it and was devastated.”

Dr Adrian Bloor, Consultant haematologist, at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, who provided the new drugs to Mrs Bradshaw, said that the drugs offer ‘significant improvement’ in survival time for patients.

He said: “While advances in CLL treatments over the past few years have improved outcomes for patients, those who experience progression or a relapse can still be very challenging to treat.

“Venetoclax has already been shown to be an effective single line therapy option, but these early data from the MURANO study suggest that in combination with rituximab it offers significant improvements in survival time in relapsed or refractory patients compared to the current combination regime. “

Regulatory submissions to health authorities based on the drug study results are now underway for the chemotherapy-free combination.