Tessa takes Radiotherapy Fight to Downing Street
Tessa was joined by Top Clinical Oncologist, Nick Van As and England Rugby Star and campaigner Lawrence Dallaglio yesterday at Number 10 Downing Street.
The team were there to press David Cameron on increasing access to advanced radiotherapy for cancer patients.
“In many instances, this type of cutting edge radiotherapy is more effective, quicker, less painful, and cheaper than drugs, yet the Government currently chooses to spend far more on pills, than radiotherapy.
After asking over 200 Parliamentary questions on this issue and countless meetings with experts, Ministers and people in need of treatment it was an important milestone to finally brief the Prime Minister.
He’s promised to go away and look at the problems and our solutions and we’re hopeful that he’ll come back with the right answers.
3rd October 2014
2013 FOI study shows English hospitals making little progress delivering the most innovative radiotherapy to cancer patients.
Last year Tessa Munt MP conducted a freedom of information study of all English cancer centres to establish if they were delivering Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR), the most advanced method of treating tumours, to cancer patients. The results were dismal.
Twelve months on, and following a pledge made by the Prime Minister last October that this kind of treatment would be available to cancer patients who needed it, Tessa Munt has repeated her study.
Ms Munt who has been campaigning for better access to advanced radiotherapy since she was elected to Parliament said:-
“This is a very important issue for cancer patients because many experts in America and Europe believe SABR will be used to treat 80% of all relevant cancers by the end of the decade. The American Society for Radiation Oncology now recommends its use for cancers of the lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, pelvic, head, neck and prostate. I wanted to know how well we were doing here.”
The 2013 results showed that despite the Prime Minister’s pledge, the vast majority of our cancer Centers are unable able to deliver SABR to any cancers other than early stage lung cancer. Ms Munt added:-
“I was shocked by what I discovered. Not only have we not been treating the range of cancers that we should be, but the NHS has been investing in the wrong technology and wasting millions of pounds on radiotherapy machines that are not up to the job.
The data compiled directly from the cancer hospitals shows:-
- Of the 50 cancer Centers only 17 are capable of delivering SABR.
- 8 of them do not comply with DOH minimum procedure requirements of 25 SABR procedures per annum. The average for each is 2.5 patients. 1 has treated no patients while three others have managed 1 SABR patient each.
- 41% of all patients were treated by the three CyberKnife systems, an increase of 150% on the previous year.
- The fourteen hybrid gantry based systems treated the remaining 59%. As ten of these systems were purchased by the NHS in 2012/2013 the patient treatment per machine fell by 51%.
- One CyberKnife is now treating three times as many patients as a hybrid gantry system.
- Only the three CyberKnife systems were able to treat a wide range of cancers including lung, liver, prostate, spine, kidney, pancreas, ureteric, ovary, bone head and neck.
- The NHS purchased 10 hybrid Gantry systems to increase SABR treatment in 2012/2013. Each system cost approx. £2.2 million. 116 new patients in total were treated with SABR; a cost of £ 190,000 per patient.
- The NHS intends to purchase a similar number of Gantry systems in 2013/2014.
25th October 2013
Tessa’s campaign for Advanced Radiotherapy gains momentum
I recently read a shocking statistic: one single hospital in France treats more patients with advanced stereotactic radiotherapy than all the hospitals in England combined.
All our European neighbours routinely use advanced stereotactic methods to deliver radiotherapy and treat cancers.
So it’s no surprise to find nearly all our neighbours have higher cancer survival rates than us. We’re languishing somewhere at the bottom of the survival league for some cancers, just above the Czech Republic and Poland.
Stereotactic radiotherapy – using machines like Gamma Knife and Cyberknife – uses high accuracy, is less toxic and results in a greater ability to control or cure cancers.
For patients, it’s so much better than conventional radiotherapy as it needs only five doses of radiation, not 30 – that means five visits to hospital, not 30. It’s cheaper for the NHS.
It’s literally a life saver for patients with complex cancers where tumours are next to, or in, vital organs as it’s delivered with such precision it can hit the tumour without harming healthy organs and tissue around it.
Three years ago, an NHS Report said of this kind of radiotherapy: “It may not only be an alternative to conventional external beam radiotherapy, but also to a range of surgical procedures, and, because the number of visits is so few, it may be very cost effective by comparison.”
The NHS Report went on to say that clinical trials were recommended to increase the numbers of patients using stereotactic radiotherapy.
It listed many types of cancer including prostate, liver, kidney, pancreas, spine, ovary, head and neck, and said the best place to carry out the trials would be in our regional specialist cancer centres. Those trials would then lead to NHS ‘price tags’ for each cancer treatment, promised for 2014.
I’ve been asking questions in Parliament and not one of the clinical trials recommended in the Report has been carried out.
The Western Daily Press has previously helped expose problems with cancer treatment in the West Country.
Then, some weeks ago, I met legendary former English rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio in the House of Commons.
Lawrence has spent a year building a team of cancer experts and consulting widely, with one aim in mind – to get England’s cancer patients better stereotactic radiotherapy. Lawrence and his team found a solution to the problem.
Lawrence presented it to the Prime Minister, who asked him to put it to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. I met Lawrence as he left that meeting.
Lawrence and his team reckoned that if the NHS agreed to act on its own Report and set a price for the trials it recommends, then they could find enough private money to equip at least six English regional hospitals as NHS specialist cancer centres – at no cost to the taxpayer.
The good news is Jeremy Hunt was pretty supportive.
The not such good news is he asked Lawrence’s team to work with NHS England to find a way forward and come back to him in March.
I say not such good news because since 1 April last year, when NHS England took over responsibility for stereotactic radiotherapy, the number of patients treated has dropped catastrophically – despite an increase in patient referrals.
Slow progress was being made with more complex cancers, and in London the Royal Marsden, Mount Vernon and St Bartholomew’s hospitals were leading the way. But since 1 April 2013 NHS England has refused the hospitals permission to treat these cancers.
The Royal Marsden is unquestionably one of the best cancer centres in the world. Until 1 April 2013, 70% of all its funding requests for these cancers were met. In the 11 months since, they have only been allowed to treat four patients.
The 2012 Health & Social Care Act was controversial but I after a lot of negotiation and the necessary changes my colleagues were persuaded to support Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley’s Bill because I received assurances that it would improve patient choice and that clinicians would have the freedom to choose the best treatment for their patients.
But since it took over total control of radiotherapy services on 1 April last year, NHS England has pursued an agenda of reducing patients’ chances of getting any radiotherapy services, and limiting patients’ choices – contrary to the promises made and aims of the Act.
So, let’s hope the money and muscle that Lawrence’s team brings to the cancer debate – win through and we see common sense in cancer care.
11th March 2014
Tessa Munt MP joins the fight against breast cancer
Local MP Tessa has continued her campaign standing up for cancer victims by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s biggest and pinkest fundraiser; wear it pink day.
Over the last 10 years wear it pink has raised a staggering £23 million and on Friday 25th October people will come together in schools, colleges and businesses throughout the country to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Campaign’s lifesaving research.
Tessa said: ‘Every year in the UK around 50,000 women and around 400 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly 12,000 women and 80 men die from this disease. This is why we need to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s fundraising efforts so they can continue to fund research which will one day lead to a cure. I hope therefore that local people will join me in wearing something pink and donating £2 for such an important cause.’
To register for wear it pink and receive your fundraising pack visit www.wearitpink.org or call 0800 107 3104.
24th September 2013
Tessa Munt MP supports initiative for better prostate cancer treatment for men in Somerset
Tessa has pledged to support the swift implementation of a Prostate Cancer UK initiative in Somerset to help men with prostate cancer receive the best possible care and support.
This comes as new analysis uncovered vast variations in the care that men with prostate cancer receive across England. The evidence further highlights that, despite recent improvements, the disease lags behind the treatment of other common cancers in key areas such as availability of Specialist Nurses, provision of information and support.
In a bid to help stamp out these inequalities, Prostate Cancer UK has produced a Quality Checklist to be used as a best practice guide for men and clinicians. The checklist sets out 15 national standards for care and support that men with prostate cancer should expect and demand, from the point of their diagnosis through to the end of their life.
Tessa showed her support for the Quality Checklist at an event held at Westminster last week where she met with people affected by the condition.
Tessa said: “Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, yet the quality of care is patchy. It is incredibly important that we do all we can to ensure all men with prostate cancer get the care and support they need. I am therefore delighted to endorse Prostate Cancer UK’s Quality Checklist, and call on the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure it is adopted as soon as possible to help all local men who are diagnosed with the disease.”
Dr Sarah Cant, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “We are delighted that Tessa has shown her support for men with prostate cancer by endorsing our Quality Checklist and urgently call on healthcare providers and commissioners to do the same. Men with prostate cancer deserve the best, and we’re absolutely determined that’s exactly what they are going to get”
15th March 2013
Local MP Tessa backs the fight against breast cancer
Tessa Munt, MP for Wells is backing the fight against breast cancer by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s award winning fundraiser, wear it pink day – and wants local people to join her.
Now in its tenth year, wear it pink, on Friday 26 October 2012 will see supporters from all over the country in schools, colleges and businesses embracing the event’s new theme, superheroes.
Breast Cancer Campaign is asking everyone to pull on something pink and donate £2.00, whether it’s a superhero cape, pink socks or pink pants you wear over your tights, you can help the charity achieve its target of raising £2 million, so they can continue to fund ground-breaking research.
Tessa says “Every year in the UK, around 48,000 women and 340 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is why we all need to support wear it pink day on 26 October, so that Breast Cancer Campaign can continue to fund research which will one day lead to a cure.”
To take part in the UK’s original and best pink day visit wearitpink.co.uk and register to receive your free fundraising pack now.
19th September 2012
Tessa Munt MP hosts London Cyberknife reception
Local MP Tessa Munt hosted a UKCK (UK Cyberknife) Network reception about cancer treatments last week.
The UKCK Network works with local groups and charities and supports ‘cutting edge’ treatment techniques for cancer sufferers. The Network was formed this year to act as a national voice for locally-based organisations promoting robotic radio-surgery techniques for cancer sufferers.
CyberKnife is a new treatment which has a variety of benefits which traditional cancer treatments do not offer, including pinpoint accuracy – which means fewer hospital visits, equipment which allows patients to move and breathe normally during treatment, shorter recovery periods and a better quality of life during and after treatment.
Tessa has championed the merits of CyberKnife’s cheaper and more efficient treatment for over two years, regularly questioning Health Ministers in Parliament about the lack of radiotherapy equipment in the South West. Three Cyberknifes are in London hospitals, where there is a lower incidence of cancer than the South West.
Tessa said “It is very important that we invest in new, cheap and effective forms of cancer treatment so that as many cancer sufferers as possible can be treated effectively and cured. I support the work of the UKCK Network and hope it can promote the use of these treatments both nationally and regionally.
25th June 2012
Tessa Munt MP set to challenge the Secretary of State for Health over cancer patients being denied the latest treatment
In an adjournment debate set to take place in the main chamber of the House of Commons at 7pm today Tessa Munt MP ( Liberal Democrat Wells) will reveal the results of a freedom of information survey she has conducted amongst all of the UKs cancer centres to establish how many of them provide the latest radiotherapy treatments to cancer patients.
‘I have been trying to establish how much the NHS is using the latest radiotherapy techniques to help cure cancer patients in this country. I have asked some 50 parliamentary questions and received not a single satisfactory answer.’
Conventional radiotherapy uses large beams of radiation, takes a long time to kill cancer tumours and often damages healthy tissue in the process. The newest form of treatment, Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy Treatment (SBRT), uses small, multiple and highly focused beams of energy that delivers radiation directly on to the tumour and avoids damage to healthy tissue.
‘In the US, and for our neighbours in Europe, SBRT is fast become the standard against which treatment for cancer patients is measured. The Secretary of State for Health told me in the House of Commons that 20 high tech machines in 25% of our Centres provided SBRT. When I asked him for the evidence for this he didn’t have any. So I decided to find out for myself.’
All bar one of the cancer centres in the UK replied to Ms Munt’s request which was for a wide range of information about SBRT. The results showed that the Secretary of State was wrong to claim that the NHS was making SBRT available to cancer patients.
Tessa went on to say:
‘This survey shows that the Secretary of State for Health has little idea of how cancer patients are being treated in this country. There are nowhere near 20 machines delivering SBRT in the NHS. Equally, the idea that 25% of our cancer centres are providing this new treatment is fanciful.’
Details of the survey were revealed by Tessa during the adjournment debate.
8th February 2012
Tessa Munt MP supports beating bowel cancer in Somerset
Local MP Tessa Munt is supporting the national charity ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’ to save lives from the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.
Tessa attended ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’s’ annual ‘Be Loud, Be Clear’ Parliamentary reception last week, where she asked for the latest bowel cancer figures for her part of Somerset. In her Wells constituency, more people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and more people die from the disease than the national average*.
Tessa said “One in eighteen people are diagnosed with bowel cancer and the local figures show that here, we must take bowel cancer really seriously. I hope that by supporting ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’s’ campaign, I can encourage people in my constituency to Be Loud about bowel cancer, and Be Clear about the symptoms of the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.”
Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’ said “I am delighted that Tessa is supporting Be Loud, Be Clear. Bowel cancer claims a life every 30 minutes in the UK, but it can be beaten. No matter what the figures say, by working together to raise awareness, we can beat bowel cancer.”
Be Loud, Be Clear 2012 coincides with the launch of Be Clear on Cancer, the first NHS national bowel cancer awareness campaign. If diagnosed early, over 90% of bowel cancer patients can be treated successfully, compared with fewer than 7% of patients diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer.
To find out more about bowel cancer and to access the latest local figures for bowel cancer please go to w.beatingbowelcancer.org
February 1st 2012
Tessa Munt MP supports CyberKnife cancer treatment system
Tessa Munt MP was recently on the national ITV news regarding the struggle faced by patients wanting to take advantage of the Cyberknife treatment. This new technique could save many lives and Tessa is fighting for the NHS to have this available.
CyberKnife is a treatment using pencil beams of radiation to track and destroy cancer tumours painlessly and without the need for an operation.
She says, “I and many other South West MPs have been supporting Plymouth Derriford Hospital’s work to complete the installation of the CyberKnife system they purchased last year. If Derriford overcomes its funding difficulties with this, their CyberKnife will be used to treat patients from all over our region. It is therefore important to all of us in the South West that Derriford Hospital receives all the help we can give them to complete this installation as soon as possible.”
The biggest hurdle Derriford, and other NHS hospitals who are waiting for a CyberKnife, has is the lack of agreement regarding a tariff for this latest technology to treat cancer. Both CyberKnife systems currently in use are charitable donations to the hospitals and there are no NHS purchased systems in the UK.
Tessa Munt MP
24th August 2011
The CyberKnife is not actually a knife at all. It’s a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that allows specialist oncologists to treat tumours and other medical conditions painlessly without the need for an operation.
CyberKnife uses pencil beams of radiation which can be directed at any part of the body from any direction via a robotic arm. The robotic arm tracks the tumour’s position, detects any movement of the tumour or patient, and automatically corrects its positioning before targeting the tumour with multiple beams of high-energy radiation, destroying abnormal tissue without damaging surrounding areas.
The treatment is so accurate that it’s now possible to treat tumours previously thought to be inoperable. Although the results of treatment do not always show immediately, in most cases the procedure will initially stop the growth of tumours before gradually reducing their size.
As there is no open surgery, the complications normally associated with an operation are eliminated, as is the need for a long recovery time. This makes treatment suitable for those who are not well enough to cope with the side-effects of surgery and most patients leave the clinic the same day as their treatment.
The advanced technology also eliminates the need for patients to be fitted with a brace or restraining device during the treatment phase, making the whole procedure less stressful for patients.
How the CyberKnife works
The vast array of different angles/trajectories from which pencil beams of radiation converge upon the tumour lead to an extremely high cumulative dose of radiation therapy at the convergence point (the target/tumour) and yet a very fast ‘fall-off’ of dose at the periphery of the carefully mapped target. The surrounding normal tissues/organs only receive a small fraction of the high central dose of therapy.
Whilst any tumour may be destroyed by a very high dose of radiation therapy, it has very often been the case, with orthodox radiotherapy, that it has not been possible to deposit the required dose on a tumour without also depositing a toxically high dose of radiation on the surrounding organs. Cyberknife often overcomes this problem by its capability to so accurately target and achieve a fast dose gradient (‘fall-off’) at the perimeter of the tumour/target.
Tessa Munt MP calls for Stem Cell donors
Tessa Munt MP is asking young men in Somerset to do something special this summer!
She has promised the charity, Anthony Nolan, she will try to recruit at least ten men, aged between 18 and 30, to join the charity’s stem cell register.
Anthony Nolan is a pioneering charity which saves the lives of people with blood cancer. On average, 65 people a day in the UK are diagnosed with a blood cancer – that’s one person every 23 minutes. Each day, the Anthony Nolan charity uses its register to match donors willing to offer their blood stem cells to people who desperately need potentially lifesaving transplants.
To go on the register, you only need a spare half an hour to fill in a form and provide a saliva sample – no needles, no pain, nothing more complicated than that. From your saliva sample, Anthony Nolan can work out your tissue type and if a match is found, you would be invited to donate your stem cells. That would mean giving up half a day to visit the outpatients department at a London hospital, where Anthony Nolan nurses would undertake a procedure similar to giving blood. All your expenses would be paid, and you walk away from the hospital immediately after you’ve finished, potentially saving someone’s life.
There is a shortage of young male donors on the bone marrow register. Men aged 18 to 30 are 80% of those who need a donor, but make up only 19% of those on the register. At the moment, Anthony Nolan can only match donors to half the people in serious need of a lifesaving transplant, so this summer the charity is aiming to recruit 10,000 more young men to the register.
Tessa is very keen to spread the word while she is out and about this summer, speaking to people she meets around the area.
Anthony Nolan has given every MP an unique code to pass on to constituents who volunteer, so the charity can track how many young men MPs have recruited. Young men interested in the chance to save someone’s life should go to mp.anthonynolan.org and enter the code WA4P
Tessa said “Across the country 1,600 people need this potentially lifesaving stem cell transplant. By joining the Anthony Nolan Register, you could be offering people the chance of life, and hope to their families. I strongly urge as many young men as possible to sign up”.
19th July 2011
Local MP supports Somerset Breakthrough Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign
Tessa Munt MP was among the local dignitaries at the launch of a local charity’s breast cancer awareness campaign. The campaign is called ‘Julie’s Legacy’ and is named after Julie Selway, a 35 year old local member of the group, who sadly lost her battle with breast cancer last year.
The group decided to use the idea of ‘Julie’s Legacy’ to promote breast cancer awareness across Somerset. Awareness is extremely important – earlier this month it was announced that breast cancer affects I in 8 women (and a small number of men). ‘Julie’s Legacy’ combined with Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s Touch Look Check campaign, wanting the women of Somerset to be aware that to have breast cancer you don’t JUST have to find a lump — it’s as simple as TLC
. TOUCH your breasts. Can you feel anything unusual?
. LOOK for changes. Is there any change in shape or texture?
. CHECK anything unusual with your doctor
Tessa said “Breast Cancer affects so many families and each of us will know someone whose life has been affected by breast cancer. It’s so important that everyone, women and men, Touch Look Check so that any problems can be caught early.
Somerset Breakthrough Breast Cancer Group does fantastic work and raises an amazing amount of money to campaign and support Somerset people with breast cancer and I’m honoured to support their work.’’
Mar 2nd 2011