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Doctors do not discuss cancer drugs

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New research shows that one in four doctors chooses not to discuss potentially life extending cancer treatments with their patients.

In a study commissioned by the charity Myeloma UK, doctors were shown to not be discussing treatments awaiting approval by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) with their patients.

The research also revealed that 75 percent of doctors receive no guidance on discussing the availability of these treatments with their patients.

Conducted with 103 myeloma specialists in England, Wales and Scotland, the report identified lengthy NHS bureaucracy as putting cancer patients’ lives at risk with three-quarters of doctors reporting a delay of over a month when applying for funding for myeloma treatments awaiting or undergoing a NICE appraisal.

In addition, 74% of doctors questioned reported to have been in a situation where applications for their preferred treatment option were rejected by Primary Care Trusts with cost cited as the main reason for the knock back.

Dr Atul Mehta, haematologist consultant at the Royal Free Hospital, London, said: 'These survey findings reveal the dismal state of UK cancer management. The majority of patients cannot get access to new life-extending drugs until they have been appraised and approved by NICE – a process that can take up to three years from when the drug is first licensed in the UK. The impact of waiting even a month for treatment can result in a life or death situation.'

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