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Cancer patients “kept in the dark”


Patients with bone cancer are being kept in the dark about new treatments that may be difficult to obtain on the NHS, doctors have admitted.

A quarter of specialists questioned in a survey by the charity Myeloma UK said that avoiding distress or confusion were the main reasons. Myeloma is a bone marrow cancer affecting 3,800 people a year. Of these, 2,600 are likely to die.

A total of 103 myeloma specialists took part in the survey. The doctors revealed how they struggled with NHS bureaucracy and cost-cutting to obtain the best treatments.

One in four confessed that they avoided telling patients about licensed drugs still awaiting approval by the National Institution for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Primary Care Trusts are generally reluctant to pay for new drugs that have not yet been given the NICE green light.

Three quarters of doctors said cost was a consideration, 40% cited “lack of evidence” and 29% argued that there was “no point” in discussing treatments their patients could not have.

Almost three quarters (74%), said they had experienced PCTs blocking their applications for treatments, mainly because of cost. Three quarters reported delays when applying for funding for treatments awaiting NICE appraisal.

Copyright PA Business 2008

Myeloma UK

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