Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

It all comes down to money

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Osseous mets from prostate cancer; bone scan

Prostate cancer; bone scan. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Health Diary:  On Facebook, I have been telling you how well I am doing with the breathing problems.  I may have spoken too soon.  Yesterday, when the District Nurse visited, she saw it quite differently.  She thinks I am becoming more frail by the visit particularly as I have lost about five kilograms in weight since leaving hospital.  A week ago, I cut myself shaving and it has not yet healed which indicated my recovery powers are shot.  She has advised that I need pro-biotics (yoghurt, Yakult, etc.) to boost my immune system.  How much longer can this process continue?

Prostate Cancer in the News

Two proven drugs used to extend the life of hormone refractory metastatic prostate cancer sufferers by a few months will not be subsidised by Britain’s National Health Service.  Now, whilst this sounds a bit mercenary, from my standpoint I am not sure that I need those extra couple of months … particularly if it puts the family finances under pressure.

Cabazitaxel, marketed as Jevtana, can extend the life of late-stage patients by average of three months at a cost of £22,000/patient.  JEVTANA is the first of recently licensed drugs for the treatment of metastatic hormone refractory prostate cancer (mHRPC) to significantly extend overall survival compared to mitoxantrone in men whose disease has progressed during or after treatment containing docetaxel (15.1 months median overall survival vs. 12.7 months in the control arm; HR=0.70 (95% CI; 0.59-0.83); P<0.0001)[1]. Men with this stage of cancer typically have a poor prognosis and until recently there have been no licensed treatments available to extend life[3]. JEVTANA represents a significant therapeutic advance in this regard.

Prostate cancer patients, their families and charities are now waiting for NICE to issue their decision on Abiraterone, another life-extending treatment with an annual cost of £35,000, which is due imminently. In February 2012, NICE issued a negative draft decision for Abiraterone as it was deemed the drug did not meet the end of life criteria for reimbursement.

There has to be a limit to what I can expect the government to contribute towards my battle with cancer.  It cannot be cured!  It will take my life!  In discussing Abiraterone with the oncologist, I asked, “Will those extra few months gained equate to playing football – or simply breathing?”.   The answer was “just breathing” and that has no quality of life associated with it so I am not disturbed by this decision,


Written by Greg Naylor

18 May 2012 at 9:00 am

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