Sunday , June 13 2021

Good treatment of cancer – but only for the rich

The Public Health Service sends seriously ill cancer patients to Aleister Christina's clinic at Sophiahemmet, but only those who can afford to pay for the treatment itself.


The Public Health Service sends seriously ill cancer patients to Aleister Christina's clinic at Sophiahemmet, but only those who can afford to pay for the treatment itself.

Effective treatment of cancer, but only for those who can pay from their own pocket. While waiting for a green light, public health sends severely ill patients to a private clinic in Stockholm. But only if they can pay SEK 70,000 a month for treatment, Läkartidningen writes.

In recent years, new, and sometimes very effective, cancer drugs have led to catching the body's immune system to attack cancer cells. One of these is the so-called crossover inhibitor, which, among other things, revolutionized the treatment of malignant melanoma. It has been shown to be effective in other cancers.

However, treatment is expensive and in anticipation of a message from the so-called NT Council in the Swedish Municipalities and the City Council (SKL), indicating that these preparations should be used, the oncology clinics of the country agreed not to treat certain types of cancer or indications. The national recommendation is based, among other things, on an economic assessment of health by the Dental and Drug Assistance Agency (TLV).


But now, Läkartidningen says there is a possibility for heavily sick patients to gain access to these preparations – provided they can afford to pay for themselves. Last year, the newspaper said, public health sent six patients to Aleister Christina's private clinic at Sophiahemmet in Stockholm, where they paid SEK 70,000 a month to access these drugs.

– It is clear that this is a selection of people. Perhaps not only the wealthiest, but still the people accustomed to looking in different contexts, says Michael Sex, a doctor from the clinic of Aleister Cristina, to the newspaper.

Gustav Ullenhag, an oncologist at Uppsala University Hospital, however, warns that care will be unequal if patients can buy for treatment where a national presentation is not yet decided.

Saves life

Of course, it's not easy. But it is important to make careful assessments, he tells the newspaper.

In Uppsala, you continue to try to just give inhibitors to control points within the indication, he says.

Neither Willking, the oncologist and former head of the Oncology Clinic at the University Hospital in Skone, does not believe that the model in which patients pay for treatment is good.

I can understand, however, that patients with widespread cancer can not wait two, three years on a national recommendation – then they have died.

He also states that at least 300 patients with widespread melanoma were in their life today if they received treatment during the years 2011-2015.

Johan Nilsson / TT

Facts: He gave the Nobel Prize

Facts: He gave the Nobel Prize


Unlike "classical" cancer treatment consisting of radiation and / or chemotherapy, immunotherapy is based on the body's own immune system, where the task of drugs is to mislead the immune system to perceive the tumor cells as foreign and to attack them. This was made possible because this year's Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine identifies two different types of "brakes" that hold the immune system. By blocking these brakes, the immune system can react against tumor cells.

One of the new drugs consists of antibodies that block the PD1 protein. This protein usually binds to the tumor cell and thus prevents the body's immune system from attacking tumor cells. These drugs have been used since 2011 for the spread of malignant skin cancer, malignant melanoma and, since 2015, also for the spread of lung cancer.

A large number of clinical trials are currently under way to determine if and if yes, which other cancers when this treatment can be effective.

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