An experimental technique to make brain tumours glow is being tested in clinical trials and could soon be used to aid surgeons across the country.
GALA-5 will involve at least 60 patients newly diagnosed with glioblastoma, the most common primary malignant brain tumour in adults. Participants will receive a treatment called 5-amino-levulinic acid, which makes the tumour glow under UV light during surgery. The glowing edges will enable surgeons to remove it more accurately.
A drug soaked wafer will then be placed in the remaining cavity, slowly releasing chemotherapy drugs over 4 to 6 weeks and killing any remaining cancer cells. If a combination of the two therapies is found to be safe and effective, the pioneering technique will be followed by a larger phase III trial.
But until the GALA-5 technique has been approved and marketed, it will be considered experimental treatment. Not all private medical insurance covers unproven treatment.
According to ActiveQuote:
- PruHealth will not pay for any treatment or drug therapy that is considered to be experimental, or for which there is insufficient evidence of safety or effectiveness
- Bupa does not pay for unproven treatment, unless it is part of a clinical trial that the company has approved
- From January, Aviva will cover experimental treatment in full if there is enough medical information to support their use. In this case, Aviva will pay the equivalent cost of the established treatment.
Richard Theo of ActiveQuote explains: "Once the GALA-5 trial is found to be safe and effective, it will be approved and licensed for widespread public health use. At this point, many patients with comprehensive cancer cover will have access to this treatment on their policy. Private medical insurance is not designed to cover pre-existing conditions, so if people want to be covered for brain cancer treatment they should purchase a policy as an investment for their future.”