New national cancer treatment service opens

A new national cancer treatment service will see patients who used to travel to Australia treated in Auckland, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today.

 Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy, or PRRT, can help manage symptoms of metastatic neuroendocrine cancer and increase and improve life for people who have it.

 The treatment involves attaching a radioactive medicine to a special protein and injecting it into the bloodstream, where it delivers a targeted high-dose of radiation to neuroendocrine cancers cells. Most patients have four doses, although some need only two.

 “We used to send patients to Melbourne for PRRT, but travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made that difficult,” Andrew Little said.

 “Since September, we’ve been running a small, interim service in Auckland, and I am very pleased to announce that it is being expanded and made permanent.

 “For many people, surgery is not an option. This treatment can give them quality time with those who matter to them.”

 The new service will be at Auckland Hospital and will treat up to 40 people a year. It is expected to cost $1.9 million in the first year and $1.6 million a year after that. It is being jointly funded by district health boards and supported by Te Aho o Te Kahu (the Cancer Control Agency), the Unicorn Foundation and the Ministry of Health.

 “The Government has made significant investment in cancer care. Our increase to Pharmac funding has made more cancer drugs available, we’ve invested in 12 new radiation treatment machines, set up the Cancer Control Agency and in Budget 2021 allocated $53 million to a new screening programme for cervical cancer and $55.6 million to improving the screening programme for breast cancer,” Andrew Little said.