Insufficient funds invested into cancer research; Norfolk survey says

Ian Gibson, Daphne Sutton, Roger Green, 3 of the trustees of PDT Norfolk

A new survey conducted by Plain Speaking client PDT Norfolk has revealed that almost half of people in Norfolk (48.88%) do not feel enough money is invested in research into new cancer treatments.   84.5% would be prepared to try a ‘new to market’ treatment if they were diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

PDT Norfolk is a charity which is campaigning for cancer patients in Norfolk to have access to Photodynamic Therapy, also revealed that more than a third of those questioned (37.76%) did not believe that hospital consultants and specialists provide patients with access to information about the wide range of treatments that are available in the UK.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is an effective, targeted method of treating certain cancerous tumours.  The treatment combines the use of a photo-sensitive drug (a photosensitizer) with laser light and is both minimally invasive and minimally toxic.  When the drug is exposed to a specific wavelength of light, a form of oxygen is produced that kills nearby cancer cells.  Whilst the treatment is currently being used for skin cancer in Norfolk, PDT Norfolk aims to raise awareness of Photodynamic Therapy, its possibilities and proven results, for other cancers too; particularly focusing on early stage lung cancer.

113 Norfolk people, aged 18 and over, responded to the online questionnaire.  41.75% of them said that someone in their family had had cancer in the last five years and more than half (54.37%) said that a close friend had had cancer in the last five years.

“The majority of people who responded to our survey have been affected by cancer in some way.  Almost half (46.88%) said that they don’t feel enough money is invested in research into new cancer treatments,” said Daphne Sutton, chair of PDT Norfolk. “We know that there are limited funds to undertake research into new treatments, that’s why we are striving to raise £75,000 to fund research at the UEA.  Professor David Russell, at the UEA School of Chemistry, has been working on Photodynamic Therapy since 1990, studying a variety of aspects of the treatment.  Working with David and his team, our aim is to provide additional evidence that the technique is of real value in detecting and treating early stage lung cancer, complementing research that already exists.”

Only one person surveyed said that they would definitely not be prepared to try a new cancer treatment.  41.84% said they would like to know about all treatments on offer and 27.55% said they would be willing to trying anything to extend their life.

“One interesting response was regarding different treatments available outside Norfolk,” continues Daphne Sutton. “More than 88% of the people who answered our survey said they would be prepared to travel outside Norfolk if they believed a better cancer treatment was available.  There are specialist Photodynamic Therapy Centres in other parts of the UK using the treatment for a range of cancers, not just skin cancers.  We want to ensure that people with cancer are aware that this treatment exists and to make it available for Norfolk people in their home county.”

PDT Norfolk is aiming to have secured at least £25,000 in funding by April 2015 in order that the research student can be in post by October 2015.

Anyone who wishes to donate to PDT Norfolk; get involved with fundraising or volunteering; or who would simply like to find out more about the charity can call 01263 824868, email info@pdtnorfolk.co.uk  or visit www.pdtnorfolk.co.uk.