Denied a lifeline
A CANCER patient has been refused a life-saving drug which could extend his life and allow him more time to spend with his wife. Carl Stewart, 28, of Bernhardt Crescent, Stevenage, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2003. He had treatment but in 2004 he
A CANCER patient has been refused a life-saving drug which could extend his life and allow him more time to spend with his wife.
Carl Stewart, 28, of Bernhardt Crescent, Stevenage, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2003.
He had treatment but in 2004 he was told it had spread to his liver and by 2005 it had spread to his lungs.
In September 2005 he was given the all clear but in February this year he was told it had come back.
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His consultant told him a new drug called Avastin could help him prolong his life by as much as two years. But North Herts and Stevenage Primary Care Trust has refused to fund the drug.
Carl's wife Kathy, a nurse, said: "Following two major operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the cancer keeps coming back.
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"We are both very upset that a new improved treatment for his cancer has been denied to us and may reduce his life span.
"We don't want people to feel sorry for us - we just want to do whatever we can to get this drug.
"I have worked for the NHS for 15 years and I think this is really unfair. Carl is 29 next week and we are having IVF to try and have children."
Carl, who works in marketing, is currently having chemotherapy but Avastin would improve the results of the treatment.
Mrs Stewart, 33, said: "We have been told the prognosis is that only 12 per cent make it to a five-year point.
"My husband doesn't want to know how long he has left because we want to remain positive.
"Our consultant expressed that this is his preferred treatment for my husband for the best prognosis.
"We try to have some normality and try to look on the bright side of things. We saw what happened with the women who fought for their drugs [Herceptin] although it took them a long time and we don't know how long we have got.
"We would like the drug because it would give us more time together."
A spokesman for North Herts and Stevenage PCT said: "We understand the concerns that any individual would have when facing a serious condition and appreciate that this is a distressing time for this patient and his family. It is also understandable that they would have an interest in any potential new treatments.
"The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently developing guidance for the future use of Bevacizumab (Avastin) in the treatment of bowel cancers and is due to issue this guidance in November 2006.
"The Mount Vernon Cancer Network - a panel of clinical experts which advises local PCTs on treatment for cancer patients, has also considered the use of Bevacizumab for particular patient groups.
"Bevacizumab is not proven to 'cure' these type of cancers and the network has concluded, based on the available evidence about potential benefits and side effects, that it is unable to support its routine use at this time.