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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 19:32 GMT
Breast cancer man needs Herceptin
Stuart Weaver
Mr Weaver was told he could apply to receive Herceptin on the NHS
A male breast cancer sufferer is pleading to be given the drug Herceptin to combat his condition.

Stuart Weaver, 37, of Maidstone in Kent, needed a mastectomy and courses of chemotherapy after finding a lump in his left breast in early 2005.

The treatment worked but Mr Weaver's consultant has recommended Herceptin to try to prevent the cancer returning.

However, AXA PPP Healthcare said the drug fell outside the conditions of his healthcare trust scheme.

Mr Weaver's cover meant AXA PPP could pay for emergency cancer treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the company said.

But a statement added: "In these circumstances the treatment - for which the drug [Herceptin] is unlicensed - is preventive as it is being used to decrease the risk of recurrence of the disease and, as such, it falls outside the scope of the scheme."

Stuart Weaver's chest
Stuart Weaver has a 6in scar on the left side of his chest

Mr Weaver said he was "extremely devastated" when a biopsy confirmed the lump he found was cancerous.

"They took away the breast tissue and the nipple because cells can still get into the nipple area," he said.

Mr Weaver thinks Herceptin should be more widely available to breast cancer sufferers.

"If you've got a drug like this that's hailed as a wonder drug and has produced significant results in clinical trials, then it should be available to everybody."

'Distress'

However, Dr Emma Pennery from Breast Cancer Care said there were concerns about Herceptin's general availability, and even more so for men.

"I think it's likely to be problematic because there isn't equal access for women already across the UK and the difficulty is we don't fully understand its usage in men.

"All the clinical trials to date have been on women," said Dr Pennery.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer said: "Whilst there isn't a lot of information on Herceptin's usage in men, it is thought that Herceptin will be effective for men with this type of breast cancer and those who think they could benefit should talk to their clinician.

"It is distressing for breast cancer patients when they find they are not covered by their insurance policies.

"Herceptin has highlighted the need for insurance companies to take into account new treatment breakthroughs and provide transparent information on what is and isn't covered in their policies in a way that can be understood by all."

Mr Weaver said he was determined to be using Herceptin by June, which would be six months after the end of his chemotherapy.


SEE ALSO:
Woman makes Herceptin court bid
21 Dec 05 |  Wiltshire
Cancer drug available on the NHS
15 Dec 05 |  Staffordshire
More will benefit from Herceptin
30 Nov 05 |  Leicestershire
Herceptin group takes to streets
13 Nov 05 |  Staffordshire


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