Thursday, October 29, 1998 Published at 10:37 GMT
Women caught in cancer care lottery
Around 6,000 women a year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer
Thousands of women with ovarian cancer are missing out on the best available treatment because of where they live, according to a survey.
Forty-eight out of 60 said they were not committed to funding a combination of the drug paclitaxel (Taxol) and a platinum compound.
The treatment has recently been found to prolong the lives of women in the late stages of the disease by almost a year, although it costs £7,500 per patient.
The health authorities' reluctance to fund it is despite the fact that both a Department of Health advisory group and cancer experts have backed it as the best treatment available for the majority of women with ovarian cancer.
About 6,000 British women a year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 4,000 a year die of it.
The symptoms of the disease are often vague so 75% of cases tend to be diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer is more difficult to treat successfully.
Guidelines produced by the Joint Council of Clinical Oncology (JCCO), a group of cancer experts, support research in the US and Europe into combination treatment.
They call for regular audits of cancer centres across the UK to ensure all women with ovarian cancer have access to the combination treatment.
CancerBACUP is calling on health authorities to act "without delay" to ensure the guidelines are implemented.
Jean Mossman, chief executive of CancerBACUP, said: "It should no longer be the case that women in some parts of the country are offered this treatment and others not.
"All women with ovarian cancer must have access to what is considered to be the best possible treatment for them."
Her comments were echoed by Mike Cullen, chair of the JCCO.
CancerBACUP is also publishing advice for women who want more information about how they can access the best ovarian cancer treatment.