A new treatment hailed as ‘groundbreaking’ has been rolled out across the country as part of the NHS' Long Term Plan, and could see as many as 2,000 patients benefit as a result.
5-ALA (5-AminoLevulinic Acid), dubbed ‘the pink drink’, uses fluorescent dye and ultraviolet light to make cancerous cells glow under UV light, enabling surgeons to more accurately identify the affected areas of the brain. This method will help to tackle some of the hardest to treat cases and make sure healthy cells are left untouched.
This is welcome news, as brain surgery is risky, with a danger of damaging healthy parts of the brain leading to permanent disability in severe cases. Surgery is currently the main form of treatment, but the 5-ALA technology helps neurosurgeons to achieve a higher percentage of successful tumour removal.
The treatment is available in every neurological centre in England as part of the NHS’s contribution to the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission.
Baroness Tessa Jowell “fought passionately and courageously for more recognition of rare brain cancers before she tragically passed away last year”, commented health secretary Matt Hancock.
He continued, "One year on, the effects of her tireless campaigning can already been seen. I am proud to announce we have now rolled out this groundbreaking treatment aid across the country, transforming care for 2,000 patients every year - a fitting testament to Tessa’s memory.
"A cancer diagnosis is life-changing, but I want every single patient to feel reassured that they have access to the best and fastest care in our wonderful NHS. While more people are surviving cancer than ever before, we can and must do more, especially for people with few options left like those with rare brain cancer. As part of our Long Term Plan, this new pioneering technology is already saving lives - offering thousands of patients a greater chance of recovery and hope for the future."
The treatment is a part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which aims to save thousands more lives by catching more cancers early and starting treatment fast.