Kerry's death inspires cancer campaign
PUBLISHED: 09:56 20 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:18 20 January 2015
INSPIRED by a Somerset cancer patient's plight, MP Tessa Munt is celebrating this week after helping those with the disease access a pioneering radiotherapy treatment.
Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR) causes less damage to healthy tissue than conventional radiotherapy, according to NHS England, and is effective for some forms of lung cancer, but access to patients has been restricted because of a lack of clinical evidence that it is as successful in treating other forms.
Sandford cancer patient Kerry Dunn was denied ‘cyberknife’ treatment, a form of SABR – and later died aged 47 – inspiring Wells MP Mrs Munt to challenge the Government to look into clinical trials.
Mrs Munt, working with former England rugby union captain Lawrence Dallaglio and leading cancer consultant Nick van As, has now achieved that aim after NHS England announced this week a £15million programme to allow 750 people a year the chance to access treatment.
Mrs Munt said: “This agreement gives us the opportunity to make sure that patients who need SABR in the South West get access to it here in our own region. It is in our hands now. We need to act upon this quickly and decisively.
“I’ve asked more than 300 parliamentary questions on this issue and at times it has felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall. It was very frustrating, but I knew I was right.
“The NHS’s own National Radiotherapy Implementation Group (NRIG) was ignored and our country fell behind the rest of the developed world, affecting many cancer patients like Kerry Dunn.
“Radiotherapy is the way forward, it’s less intrusive, more effective and much cheaper – yet NHS England continued to prioritise spending on expensive drugs. It will prevent many from suffering unduly, give hope to a great many more and put and end to unnecessary deaths like that of Kerry Dunn.”
The trials will focus on cancers which have spread to other parts of the body, primary liver tumours, re-treatment of cancers of the spine and pelvis and spinal tumours.
An NHS England spokesman said: “It is envisaged that we will see the number of centres grow over the next few years as the initiatives progress and as the clinical evidence to support SABR treatments accrues.”