NHS must fund treatment to boost cancer survival rates, charity warns

A leading eye cancer charity has discovered a chemotherapy has helped effectively treat 90% of patients despite the NHS’ apprehension to providing funding for it.

OcuMel UK, a registered charity designed to provide support for people suffering with ocular melanoma – a form of eye cancer – is calling on the NHS to end its ‘devastating’ failure to fund treatment which can boost patients survival rates.

selective focus of blue-eyed person

An estimated 750 cases of ocular melanoma are diagnosed in the UK every year and around 50% progress to become a secondary cancer – known as metastases. This form of cancer occurs in the liver for the majority of patients, but limited treatment provided by the NHS means just 10 – 25% survive for a year after their diagnosis.

Against this backdrop, OcuMel have discovered a treatment, known as chemosaturation therapy, which has been created to treat liver cancer, has been found to be effective in almost 90% of patients.

A member from the charity explained that the therapy works by isolating the liver from the rest of the body and uses two small balloons to divert blood past the liver for an hour while delivering drugs directly into the organ.

However, the charity claims the NHS are still refusing to fund the cure despite it’s positive treatment rates. In 2021, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) highlighted the treatment as a viable option.

Neil Pearce, Chairman of OcuMel UK, said: ‘It really is devastating that patients with ocular melanoma that has spread to the liver are being denied access to a treatment proven to boost survival, with no NHS commissioned service and every individual funding request put to NHS England denied.

‘We have patients individually fundraising and paying to go private, but most simply cannot afford to do so, and that is wrong. We are calling on decision-makers to address these issues as a matter of priority to save lives.’

However, in response to this, a spokesperson from NHS England claimed there is not enough evidence to make the treatment ‘routinely available’ for patients.

The spokesperson said: ‘While NICE incorporated chemosaturation therapy into the available treatment options, it specifically advised using it with caution.

‘NHS England also identified there was insufficient evidence to make it routinely available and will look to review the evidence again later this year.’

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn


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