Head and Neck Cancer
The team at University College Hospital in London has already completed over 1,500 PDT procedures for head and neck cancer – mouth cancer, to you and I.
While there is NICE approval for PDT to be used for this cancer, there has never been a full, published study that would appear to satisfy all UK hospitals.
That is all changing, and all of us in the PDT world are eagerly anticipating a report from the Department of Health that will make a positive recommendation that patients with head and neck cancer SHOULD be considered for PDT.
PDT has been proved to work. It is does so for patients who would otherwise face up to surgery that would destroy and disfigure. PDT, subject to the specialist’s opinion, would allow the patient to remain all functions in the mouth, retain the ability to produce saliva, and continue to eat and lead a normal life.
The treatment using the Foscan drug is available in a number of UK hospitals.
It is expected that around one in five patients with these cancers might be suitable for PDT and expect a positive outcome. That may one day end up being a conservative figure, with PDT only technically approved for advanced cases.
The charity’s argument is that even for early stage cancers, PDT can still be quick and simple, still allow the patient to be treated without delay and avoid any surgery and loss of tissue.
Words of advice:
Patients seeking PDT for head and neck cancers will sometimes be warned off PDT because their consultant is of the understanding that PDT only treats surface cancers. PDT is offered for cancers deeper below the surface via a procedure known as ‘interstitial’. The drug is absorbed by the cancer via an intravenous injection, and the light is delivered to the target area via small fibers. As you may read in other sections, this technique is used to reach cancers in the lungs, pancreas and the breast.
The hospitals offering head and neck PDT are:
The Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro. Steve Adcock
University Hospital, Birmingham. Dr Keith Webster
University College Hospital, London. Mr Colin Hopper
Carlisle Infirmary, Carlisle. Graham Putnam
St Bart’s Hospital, London. Dr Mike Dilks
Pinderfields, Wakefield. David Mitchell
We have to respect the medical option of experts, but our advice would be that you always seek a 2nd opinion on your cancer from a PDT specialist.
One final point: if you are told that you can’t have PDT because of the drug cost, we suggest that you remind the person that the real, total cost of PDT surgery for head and neck cancer, is in the region of £20,000 - £40,000. PDT costs around £7,500.
We have setup a pre-screening service for all head and neck cancer patients. Please email the outline detail's of the cancer condition, together with the patient's name, age and address, together with phone contact details to Billy Bickell:
An email reply from one of the team will usually be received within 5 days.
New PDT trial
A new version of PDT for head and neck cancer is underway at UCH in London, under the direction of Colin Hopper. It uses a therapy developed by PCI, and combines PDT and chemotherapy in a single treatment.
Some patients being treated by Colin Hopper at UCH may be offered this.
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