13 Feb 2010

Warning of tough cancer decisions ahead

12:30 pm on 13 February 2010

An independent cancer advisory group believes New Zealand will have to start making tough choices about which cancers get treated.

It says the means to test and pay for cancer treatments is decreasing just as the population starts to get older and sicker.

Cancer Control New Zealand, established by the Ministry of Health as an independent watchdog on cancer issues, has reported back to the ministry that New Zealand will be unable to afford all the modern cancer treatments needed in the coming decade.

It says the range of new cancer drugs - including Herceptin, Glivec and Gardasil - is increasing, while the population gets older and more prone to cancer.

It wants a new independent committee, including doctors and medical ethicists, set up to decide which treatments get introduced and which do not.

Advocacy group finds treatment uneven

CancerVoices, an advocacy group for cancer patients, says it agrees with Cancer Control New Zealand about the uneven distribution of services.

Chairperson David Binning says patients are unhappy with the "fragmented" way different district health boards deliver cancer treatments.

He says he supports the recommendation that an independent body should be formed to manage the even distribution of treatment on a national basis.