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Last Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005, 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK
Bowel cancer drug access to widen
Bowel cancer scan
About 30,000 people develop bowel cancer each year
A plan to make a treatment for bowel cancer more widely available on the NHS has been welcomed by campaigners.

Draft guidance by NHS drug advisers NICE has recommended a combination treatment, including the drug Eloxatin, should be available for NHS patients.

It is believed that Eloxatin, used with 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and folinic acid (FA), offers a potential cure for those in the early stages of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer, with 30,000 cases a year.

The NICE recommendations came in draft guidance, which will be sent out to consultation before final guidance is issued in June for doctors in England and Wales.

Trials

International trials show that adding Eloxatin to the standard chemotherapy combination helps reduce the risk of relapse after surgery by 25%.

Hilary Whitaker, chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, said: "It's impossible to overstate the importance of this decision by NICE for the thousands of people diagnosed every year with early stage bowel cancer.

"We want all eligible patients to have access to the best chance of cure and although the final guidance may take some months to be confirmed, patients should start speaking now to their clinicians to ensure that they are offered the option of the most effective treatment for their particular type of bowel cancer." There is no ban on prescribing drugs that had not been appraised by NICE. Doctors can prescribe at their discretion.

Dr Harpreet Wasan, medical oncologist at Hammersmith Hospital in London, said: "This is a landmark decision by NICE in the treatment of bowel cancer, which will be welcomed by clinicians and patients alike."

NICE said the proposals would have to be consulted on before any decision was taken.


SEE ALSO:
Checks cut bowel cancers by 80%
25 Oct 05 |  Health
National testing for bowel cancer
30 Aug 05 |  Scotland


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