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Cancer charity lobbies Scottish Parliament for MRI scanning for patients

Published on 27/11/17 11:24:am

A national cancer charity is stepping up its fight for sufferers of a rare-form of cancer in Scotland to receive the same level of care that patients are provided with in England.

OcuMel UK – a charity supporting those affected by ocular melanoma (a rare form of eye cancer) – says patients in Scotland should be entitled to MRI scans to help with early detection should the disease spread.

Half of patients will develop the incurable form of the cancer and will have metastases (secondary malignant growths) occurring in another part of the body. In 90% of these cases the disease will spread to the liver first allowing for detection to be targeted via scans.

In correspondence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Clerk Stephen Fricker, the charity explains how research groups – comprising of consultants specialising ocular oncology, liver surgery, abdominal radiology and pathology – They concluded MRI scans are the most effective way of detecting spread of the disease.

The correspondence also states how ocular melanoma patients are seen at four centres in the UK, including Liverpool, London, Sheffield and Glasgow. It mentions patients at Gartnavel are the only patients who are being denied MRI scans across the board.

Jo Gumbs, National Director at OcuMel UK, said: “We are concerned that lives could be at risk by patients not receiving the most appropriate type of scan to detect early spread of their cancer elsewhere in their body.

“We are informed the decision why patients in Scotland are being denied access to MRI scans, is due to a lack of research into the effectiveness between MRI and ultrasound in detection extremely rare cancer. It is not fair to penalise a patient of a rare cancer for this reason and it makes no economic sense. Ocular melanoma is an aggressive cancer with most people only surviving around six months if diagnosed with secondary disease. It is widely recognised that an ultrasound scan is inferior to MRI for early detection of disease and this cancer needs to be identified at the earliest opportunity to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient.”

One patient in Scotland who has been denied an MRI scan is 50-year-old mother of two, Jennifer Lewis. Mrs Lewis moved to Tullibody from Inverness to be closer to the Gartnaval Hospital in Glasgow where she receives her treatment.

“I am delighted OcuMel UK is fighting for the rights of Scottish patients as this can be a matter of life or death. Often ultrasounds do not pick up lesions until they have become advanced when any treatment to prolong life would not be worth having. Should the worst happen and my cancer spreads I should be given every opportunity to treat the disease as early as possible to keep me healthy and this can only be achieved by having regular MRI scans. The anxiety this situation is causing me is life consuming.”

Notes to editors:

  • OcuMel UK is a registered charity run by eye cancer patients, family members, and volunteers. It is chaired by former liver surgeon, Mr Neil Pearce DM, FRCS.
  • The charity aims to help patients and their families by providing accurate, up-to-date information and emotional support.
  • OcuMel UK provides vital information via its website, helpline and various online forums.
  • The charity’s vision is a world where ocular melanoma patients are given the information, support and treatment they need.
  • Jo Gumbs, Neil Pearce of OcuMel UK and Jennifer Lewis are available for media interview.

Members of the media needing further information should in the first instance telephone Patrick Lowman at Patrick Lowman PR on 07792 428555 or by email