The Letters Editor
The Daily telegraph
Alan Hill

Dear Alan,

We note that the Government budget includes $72.7 million to fund up to six new regional radiotherapy centres. NSW Cancer Council spokesman Dr Andrew Penman in supporting the funding says "this is the biggest issue facing cancer treatment in this country".

It is a pity the Government has abandoned its policy of funding only medical interventions that have been proven to be effective - evidence-based medicine. There is still not a single properly run randomised trial showing that radiotherapy increases survival over no treatment. In fact, recent trials show it does more harm than good - for example with breast cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

Rather than increasing the use of radiotherapy from 35% to 50% of all cancer patients as recommended by radiotherapists we should be reducing its use to the less than 5% of cancer patients who will get some short-term benefit from shrinking their tumours that are threatening a vital organ, such as the bowel or brain.

The $72.7 million could have been better used to help cancer patients learn how to help themselves, and avoid further harm to their health.

Don Benjamin
Cancer Information & Support Society
13/1A Berry Road St Leonards 2065
Ph 0416 121 140
(02) 9413 7497 (message)
(02) 9925 0441 (home)

Published in Daily Telegraph Friday May 17 2001