New drugs to help victims of cancer

Jonathan Kelly
Jonathan Kelly
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A MOVE to make pioneering treatments available to cancer patients has been welcomed.

Wearside patients battling head and neck cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma can now get access to two new treatments, after a decision by the North of England Cancer Drug Approvals Group to use some of a £2.8 million fund.

Iain Scott, whose 14-year-old son Jonathan Kelly was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in summer 2008, today welcomed the decision, which will give extra hope to patients.

Brave Jonathan underwent months of gruelling chemotherapy before being given the all-clear a year ago.

Iain, 42, of Hylton Castle, said: “I welcome anything like this that gives an extra chance for someone with cancer to live.

“We had our eyes opened just by the number of children coming in and being diagnosed with cancer and leukaemia and some of the cases were very bad.

“Anything that helps survival levels is absolutely fantastic.”

The new treatments are Cetuximab for patients with head and neck cancer where the disease has recurred or spread and Bendamustine for patients with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, whose disease has progressed after treatment.

Ken Bremner, chairman of North of England Cancer Drug Approvals Group and chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are very pleased to have this additional money to use on cancer treatments because it means we are able to provide treatments that we would otherwise not have been able to.

“None of these treatments will cure patients but their availability means that clinicians can now discuss using them with those patients who they feel would benefit.

“It also means that clinicians and patients now have greater choice over the treatments available.

“We often have to make very difficult decisions about the funding of expensive treatments which we know offer only a limited extension to life and sometimes which have shown relatively small clinical benefits.

“However, we recognise how important it is to patients and their families to have access to these treatments and we know that these decisions will be very much welcomed by clinicians and by patients and their families.”