Men with prostate cancer are being denied an approved drug because some doctors have been told to ration its availability for financial reasons.
According to the Prostate Cancer Charity, many men face a "titanic" struggle to get hold of the drug Taxotere, which can prolong the life expectancy of sufferers and improve their quality of life.
Although the drug was approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) earlier this year, it costs £7,000 per treatment course and many primary care trusts (PCTs) therefore believe it is too expensive to prescribe.
"It cannot be acceptable that men and their families who are already having to deal with the tough news of a prostate cancer diagnosis, have to wrestle with NHS bureaucracy at the same time," insisted John Neate, chief executive of the charity.
Speaking at the National Prostate Cancer Conference in London today, he conceded: "Yes, there are cost implications and yes, I do understand the challenges for PCTs in balancing their books and in meeting the inexorably rising public demand for wider treatment choices.
"But we know that prostate cancer is catching up from a very low base and it deserves to be given special recognition for that in funding decisions."
Over 30,000 British men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, of which the disease kills around 10,000.
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Cancer treatment news : 3/11/2006