there may be some differences between the national health service (nsh) and private cancer care in the uk.
but generally the cancer treatments are the same, whether you have it privately or on the nhs.
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You may be able to perform some tests or treatments more quickly in private practice. But some cancer treatments, like radiation therapy, require expensive specialized equipment. this may not be available in private hospitals.
in the national health service, a cancer specialist treats all people with cancer. Your specialist will recommend the best treatment for your condition. They will also tell you if there are any treatments that might help you that are not available on the nhs.
availability of new treatments
The media sometimes reports on cancer drugs that are available in some parts of the UK but not others. this has been called the zip code lottery.
the national institute for excellence in health and care (nice) was created to overcome this in england and wales. the scottish medicines consortium (smc) is established in scotland. Northern Ireland tends to make good decisions.
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the function of nice and smc is to look for new treatments and:
- see if they work
- see if they are profitable
- judging whether they should be freely available on the nhs
nice and the smc review all kinds of treatments, not just new drugs. if they approve a new treatment, health authorities have to provide it.
many new treatments are expensive. health authorities sometimes say that in order to provide expensive new treatments, they have to cut other areas of health care.
Other new treatments may need specialized equipment and training. all of this takes time to set up. your local cancer center may not have all of this when you need it.
new unproven treatments
New treatments may become privately available before clinical trials end. You may read about a new treatment in the press and not understand why it’s not available to you on the NHS.
the nhs will not provide these treatments. this is because the evidence on the new treatment is not complete. nice cannot review it and recommend it as a treatment until it has been through all of the clinical trials.
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You may be able to get treatment privately. but you will have to pay for this. some cancer treatments can cost many thousands of pounds.
the cancer drug fund
the cancer drugs fund (cdf) is a funding source for cancer drugs in england. gives patients faster access to the most promising new treatments.
pay for private treatment
before paying for a private treatment not available on the nhs, find out the risks and benefits for you.
Sometimes, treatment may increase the chance of curing your cancer. or it could help control it for a long time. in this case, you may feel it’s worth the cost.
But in some cases, treatment may only provide a small chance of controlling the cancer for a short time. you may feel it’s not worth the cost to you.
Discuss treatment with your specialist. then decide if you want to have it. remember that we need the results of all clinical trials first. only then can we compare it to existing treatments to see if it works better.
Our clinical trials database has treatments that are still in clinical trials. you can print out the details of an essay you are interested in and take them to your specialist. they may be able to arrange for you to participate.
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