Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 14:10 UK

Cancer patient denied US funding

Alexander Jones
Mr Jones has completed two London Marathons to raise money for charity

A cancer patient who has undergone 14 operations to remove brain and spine tumours is desperate to raise funds for life-saving treatment in the US.

Alex Jones, 34, from Semley, near Shaftesbury, Dorset, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2001.

He said his latest tumour required proton beam therapy not available in the UK, but on offer in Boston.

Mr Jones was told by the NHS he did not meet the clinical criteria needed for funding of treatment abroad.

Mr Jones' father Andrew said: "The NHS have been brilliant with all of Alex's treatments so far, they really have been great.

"But we applied for funding and were turned down as we didn't meet the criteria."

Conventional radiotherapy

The Cancer Center in Boston, Massachusetts, has the equipment Mr Jones requires but the likely cost of treatment is £150,000.

A spokesperson for the NHS National Commissioning Group said: "A Proton Reference Panel, comprised of experts in cancer radiology, agrees funding for patients who meet certain clinical criteria to go abroad for proton therapy treatment.

"The possibility of having a proton therapy treatment centre in the UK is being given consideration."

Alex Jones
Mr Jones was told he did not meet clinical criteria needed for funding

The cost of installing a relevant proton beam therapy treatment centre in the UK is about £100m, the spokesperson added.

Mr Jones' latest tumour is a right-sided astrocytoma and traditional surgery including chemotherapy and conventional radiotherapy has been unsuitable.

Radiotherapy is not suitable because it can kill essential cells around the tumour.

Proton beam therapy is a non-invasive procedure in which the tumour is targeted precisely by protons.

There is currently one proton beam therapy facility based in the UK, but its specialism is the treatment of cancerous eye tumours and is not suitable for the treatment Mr Jones requires.

His family is now looking at ideas for fundraising - something Mr Jones did in 2004 and 2005 when he completed the London Marathon to raise money for the Brain and Spine Foundation.

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