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Cancer patients 'missing out' on key tests

25 August 2015 10:57

Over 24,000 cancer patients were not tested, the data suggests

Over 24,000 cancer patients were not tested, the data suggests

Thousands of cancer patients are missing out on targeted treatments due to a lack of funds, claims a charity.

Cancer Research UK estimates more than 24,000 molecular diagnostic tests were not carried out on eligible patients across England in 2014.

The tests can help doctors choose more personalised treatments that may improve survival chances for their patients.

Lung and bowel cancer

Around 16,000 eligible patients with lung and bowel cancer were not offered tests last year, the charity said.

Cancer Research UK claims a quarter of these could have been given targeted treatments, meaning an estimated 3,500 lung and bowel cancer patients missed out on medications that may have changed the course of their disease.

No dedicated funding is currently available for molecular diagnostic testing, something which the charity says is the main reason for missed tests.

Poor awareness of targeted treatments and testing also plays a part.

It is estimated that a further £13 million is needed to meet the demand for tests and make sure the services are kept up to date.

Travel plans

Cancer travel insurance gives people undergoing treatment for cancer the peace of mind needed to enjoy holidays abroad.

It can cover the cost of lost medication, and provides access to 24/7 emergency assistance.

Routine testing

Molecular diagnostic tests are routinely available in other countries around the world, but not in the UK.

Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, which demonstrated how such testing could be introduced two years ago, says the NHS continues to lag behind its counterparts when it comes to innovative care.

He wants all eligible patients to be tested to see if they could benefit from new types of treatment.

A national commissioning structure for the tests features in the new cancer strategy for England, which was announced earlier in the summer.