Leeds man wins fight for cancer drugs to tackle prostate problem

A Leeds man with advanced prostate cancer, who was told he faced a £1,400 bill for life-extending chemotherapy, has welcomed a move to make the therapy more widely available.

Dominic Horsley, of Woodlesford, hopes that publicising his story helped in some way to put pressure on NHS England to offer Docetaxel chemotherapy straight after diagnosis.

The 41-year-old was invited for the treatment, which research suggests can extend patients’ lives by up to 15 months, by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in November only to be turned away on the day.

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He was told he either had to pay £1,400 for six rounds of the drug or travel to trusts in Huddersfield or Manchester, which were offering Docetaxel for free.

Under previous guidelines the chemotherapy drug was only funded after hormone-based treatments had stopped working but research proved its benefits in being used earlier.

NHS England has scrapped the guidance and fast-tracked the treatment to make it more widely available on the NHS.

Dominic, who is having his final round of Docetaxel this week after a crowdfunding campaign raised money for his treatment, was “over the moon” when he heard the news.

He said: “I hope I had something to do with it and hopefully they rushed it through. Now if you get prostate cancer you can get chemo on the NHS and there’s no carry on anymore – it’s just evolving all the time.”

After an apparent “postcode lottery” was revealed in funding Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves lobbied Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the issue.

Constituent Michael Thornton, from Bramley, was another advanced prostate cancer patient affected after he was denied Docetaxel at short notice due to NHS funding problems.

He has since been recalled to hospital and offered alternative drug therapy before chemotherapy is considered.

Jonathan Fielden, from NHS England, said: “Rigorous new evidence shows that this drug brings significant benefits for patients with advanced prostate cancer. So working closely with patient groups and cancer specialists, NHS England is now pleased to be fast-tracking its wider availability.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, affecting one in eight at some point, and more than 9,000 men in the UK die from the condition every year.

Angela Culhane, chief executive at Prostate Cancer UK said: “It is now critical that specialists are made aware that this use of Docetaxel treatment is available so that no man ever misses out.

“Earlier Docetaxel must become the standard for men who can benefit from it and we will continue applying pressure until we are sure this is the case.”