The National Cancer Drugs Fund

The CDF has made the headlines this week  as it has been announced that many drugs will no longer be funded.

This is an emotive issue and many will not agree with some of my reservations about both the fund and some of the changes. To the best of my knowledge patients with head and neck cancer will not be affected much by the changes. However a couple of questions occur to me. Does cancer, with this fund, get more than its fair share of funding in comparison to some other chronic and life-threatening conditions? Why are some of the patients I work with in the UK excluded from the CDF just because they happen to live in Northern Ireland and Scotland?

Being a laryngectomee is a very rare situation, but we expect that medical staff will all know how to treat us and keep us safe. Some of the rarer cancers have been particularly hard-hit by the changes to the CDF – e.g. patients with Sarcoma. Here are some facts about the impact on them.

Sarcomas are a group of rare diseases. They have lost three treatments funded by CDF. One drug was only applicable to about 20 patients a year. There is no other valid treatment. One was applicable to about 30 patients a year and was getting great results, as yet unpublished. The third was applicable to about 60 patients a year with clinical data indicating a median survival about twice that of the trials – but as yet unpublished. None had been NICE appraised because the number of patients is too small to justify the costs.

Is it fair to cut drugs through lack of evidence when getting such evidence is unpractical, especially when treatment alternatives are non-existent?


At our first meeting of the year, HNChelp members started to plan an ambitious program for 2015.

SOCIAL   Trips to the National Memorial Arboretum, the NALC Annual Lunch and an evening boat trip on Chesterfield Canal are under consideration. We have made a booking for our Christmas Lunch and intend to take part in the Mayor’s Charity  Quiz.

FUNDRAISING  We hope to have stalls at the Chesterfield Royal Hospital and local supermarkets to raise funds for HNChelp and the National Association of Laryngectomee Clubs. Additionally we  plan to hold a Coffee Morning during the Spring. At the same time we will give out leaflets about early signs of head and neckk cancer.

MEDICAL  As requested we will continue to work with Healthwatch to provide a patient voice to assist in improving local services.

If any of this interests you ,  please come and join us!

Cancer – bad luck?

The start of 2015 has seen headlines claiming most cancers are down to bad luck.  For many cancer sites that may be true but for head and neck cancer the contribution of alcohol consumption and smoking  are undeniable.

Whatever the validity of these headlines the most significant factor is early presentation and diagnosis if there is to be a favourable outcome.

In 2015, HNChelp will continue its campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of head and neck cancer. Changes such as hoarseness, a neck lump, a sore throat,  a mouth ulcer or sore patch lasting more than 3 weeks needs investigation by a GP.