Campaign cuts through red tape to get men with prostate cancer in Wales access to benefits of earlier chemotherapy
Eligible men in Wales with newly-diagnosed advanced prostate cancer will now be offered earlier access to docetaxel chemotherapy alongside hormone therapy, offering the possibility of an extra 15 months of life on average.
Following months of campaigning in Wales, with both Prostate Cancer UK and local campaigners putting pressure on decision-makers, earlier access to docetaxel chemotherapy is now available for Welshmen who need it.
Until recently, docetaxel chemotherapy had only been offered to men with advanced prostate cancer after hormone treatment has stopped working. But results from the STAMPEDE trial released in December 2015 demonstrated the staggering benefits of introducing the treatment at an earlier stage alongside hormone therapy. The potential of an extra 15 months of life on average is much longer than the normal average benefit offered by new prostate cancer drugs that become available. That’s why, since the results were announced, we have been working hard to make sure that this use of the treatment becomes available to all men who may benefit, no matter where they live in the UK.
We ramped up our campaigning activity and called on supporters across Wales to take action too, which they did in scores
Earlier docetaxel was successfully made available to men in both Scotland and England back in January 2016. However after talking to Local Health Boards, health officials, clinicians and men in Wales, it was brought to our attention that access across Wales continued to be patchy due to a lack of national commissioning advice having been issued on the matter. This prompted us to ramp up our campaigning activity and call on supporters across Wales to take action too, which they did in scores as they pressurised their local Assembly Members to help solve the problem.
The use of this treatment has now been approved via the ‘One Wales’ process, and the All Wales Therapeutics and Toxicology Centre (AWTTC) has issued new interim commissioning advice for this treatment to all relevant health bodies across Wales. This advice will be reviewed every 12 months. We will be following up with Local Health Boards to ensure that they are aware of the updated advice and that this treatment is made available for men in Wales who may benefit as soon as possible.
It is now critical that Local Health Boards ensure they are following the updated advice to offer earlier docetaxel to men who may benefit.
Heather Blake, Director of Support and Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “This is fantastic news for men in Wales who are diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Now they will have the same opportunity for invaluable extra quality time with loved ones as those in England and Scotland.
“We believe the mounting pressure on commissioning bodies over recent weeks as a result of our campaigning work had a significant impact on the speed at which the new commissioning advice was pushed through. It demonstrated just how important this treatment is to men with prostate cancer across the country. It is now critical that Local Health Boards ensure they are following the updated advice to offer earlier docetaxel to men who may benefit, so that there is no further delay to this treatment directly reaching men in the clinic.”
Prostate Cancer UK will also continue to work with the relevant health bodies in Northern Ireland so that earlier docetaxel is available to all men who need it across the UK.