Asbestos mesothelioma patients seek NHS funding for new treatment

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Victims of exposure to asbestos and now suffering from the terminal illness mesothelioma are calling for the NHS to fund a new treatment already in use in the UK but not offered for mesothelioma patients.

Chemoembolisation is said to prolong the life of mesothelioma patients and is available in Germany to treat victims of the asbestos related disease.

In the UK chemoembolisation is used for patients with liver cancer but not for those with mesothelioma. At least not on the NHS.

One mesothelioma sufferer has spent his life savings on the treatment, which consists of drugs being injected directly into a tumour. Ron Bonfield says the treatment for his mesothelioma has transformed his health and he is now in remission.

He has struggled to get NHS funding for his mesothelioma treatment, with Devon Primary Care Trust paying for just one of his 5 courses of treatment.

The spokesperson for a local support group for patients with mesothelioma said "We have the drugs, we have the technique, what we need now is a trial to allow people to actually explore this technique for extension to life."

Mr Bonfield said "I'm quite upset, knowing that there is a treatment out there that can prolong my life, not just by months but by years, and also give me a quality of life."

Mr Bonfield's MP has written to the Health Secretary to support victims of the asbestos related disease, mesothelioma and to call for chemoembolisation to be made available on the NHS as its costs are about the same as for traditional chemotherapy.

Even consultants in the UK support the German chemoembolisation treatment for patients with mesothelioma as it offers a real chance of tumour reduction and a longer life. However, the NHS Trusts which would fund the treatment are waiting until more evidence of the benefits of chemoembolisation for patients with mesothelioma is proven.

If you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-linked disease, probably due to exposure to asbestos as part of your working life, then you may be able to claim compensation for your asbestos disease.

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