New fund offers advanced radiotherapy therapy for all

A new 15 million fund, the Cancer Radiotherapy Innovation Fund, has been launched by David Cameron and follows in the footsteps of the Cancer Drugs Fund, which has so far assisted more than 21,000 patients.

The investment will be used to roll out the use of Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) across the NHS, so that nearly 8,000 more cancer patients can benefit.

IMRT works by targeting a tumour with more precise doses of radiation, while minimising the damage done to surrounding healthy tissue.

The therapy will particularly aid patients with head and neck cancers, lowering the possibility of side-effects like damaged salivary glands.

Dr Kumar of Cancer Research UK said the additional investment would help the UK become a "world-leader" in cancer treatment, adding that the advanced radiotherapy techniques offered patients a higher chance of survival.

From April 2013, advanced radiotherapy techniques will be available to all patients where clinically appropriate, safe and cost-effective.

The new NHS Commissioning Board system means that cancer treatments will be planned and paid for on a national basis, helping patients avoid the old-fashioned ’postcode lottery’, which led to some patients missing out because of where they happened to live.

The change means that in theory, all patients with brain tumours who need stereotactic radiosurgery, for example, will have precisely the same access to this treatment.

July - September Cancer Watch
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