Bone cancer 'under-profiled and under-funded', charity says

Image source, Nicola White
Image caption,
Nicola White on her wedding day

A cancer charity has said primary bone cancer is "under-profiled and under-funded".

The Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) spent £3.2m on research, including studies on proton beam therapy, between 2006-2016 and National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) members spent £6.4m.

But in the same period, NCRI members spent £387m on breast cancer research.

BCRT said bone cancer received 1.6% of the amount spent on breast cancer despite a 30% lower survival rate.

The NCRI said it was looking at clinical trials of bone cancer treatments.

It comes as Nicola White from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, raises money to go abroad for proton beam treatment, not usually available on the NHS.

Ms White, 32, has been told she has two years to live, but it is hoped the therapy could extend her life.

Image source, Nicola White
Image caption,
Nicola White does not qualify for proton beam therapy on the NHS

Her cousin, Emily Carr, said it was a "last chance effort" but the appeal had "tremendous support", already raising £20,000 of its £75,000 target.

The BCRT said it is the only charity that has spent money looking into proton beam therapy for patients with bone cancer.

Zoe Davison from BCRT said: "We really sympathise with the frustrations of Nicola's predicament.

"We have funded research examining the usefulness of proton beam therapy and are confident that this is an important route for treating bone cancer patients."

The trust said it was dedicated to increasing funding into bone cancer and would be announcing its most recent research projects in the next couple of weeks.

Dr Karen Kennedy, NCRI director, said: "As part of our clinical studies groups, we have a specialist group looking at clinical trials in the UK for bone cancer treatments to help ensure that effective new treatments are developed for patients like Nicola.

"The NCRI collates funding data from its partners to shine a light on areas of potential unmet need or opportunity in cancer research."

What is proton beam therapy?

  • Proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy
  • It uses beams to achieve the same cell-killing effect
  • It stops once it hits the cancerous cells, meaning much less damage to surrounding tissue

Source: NHS Choices

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