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Fundraising cancer victim turned down for vital care
A CANCER fundraiser who has been refused life-saving treatment says a primary care trust is “playing God” with her life.
Esther Edwards, 68, of Raymonds Drive, Benfleet, suffers from rare neuroendocrine tumours in her liver, and has been treated at London’s Royal Free Hospital for six years.
Leading specialists have written to NHS South West Essex saying she needs special radiation treatment called radionuclide – targeted radiotherapy which would blast tumours and give her a better chance of survival.
However, the treatment costs up to £40,000 for a three-session course and the health trust says it can’t afford it.
Esther said: “The Royal Free said I needed this treatment and I had the impression there would be no problem.
“A few weeks later my doctor called to say the treatment had been refused. I couldn’t believe it. It feels like the primary care trust is playing God with my life.
“This treatment is the best one for my condition and would increase dramatically my chances of survival. I am in limbo, not knowing what is going to happen.”
Funding for the treatment is provided for patients of other primary care trusts.
Esther added: “My condition is getting worse and this radiation would help me live longer. My life is hanging in the balance.”
The great-grandmother had part of her bowel removed in 2006 and has faced monthly injections since, to keep the tumours under control.
But the size of these increased in January, prompting the need for new treatment.
Esther raises money for the NET Patient Foundation, in Castle Point, a charity which works to raise awareness of the rare cancer. Since January, she and friend, Joan Wells, have raised more than £4,000 for the campaign.
Foundation director Catherine Bouvier has written to the trust in support of Esther.
She said: “This type of cancer is very rare and leading doctors at the Royal Free have put forward a very detailed case as to why Esther needs the treatment. Other trusts pay for this treatment and the majority of patients have been supported.”
There are about 3,000 cases of neuroendocrine tumours in the UK each year.
A spokesman for NHS South West Essex confirmed it had declined a number of individual funding requests for Yttrium 90 radionuclide (as a treatment for neuroendocrine tumours) in recent months. The spokesman added: “This is due to the limited evidence of this treatment’s clinical cost-effectiveness.
“Any patient whose funding request has been declined can request the decision to be considered through the appeals process.’’
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