Crowdfunded cancer treatments – do they work?

The British Medical Journal has published figures that show that more people are trying to raise money by crowdfunding to pay for treatments not available on the NHS.

In the last three years, at least £7m has been raised by people on crowdfunding sites like Just Giving and Go Fund Me.

Just Giving’s own figures show that more than 2,300 UK cancer-related appeals were set up on its site in 2016, a seven fold rise on the number for 2015.Many of the people trying to raise money in this way have advanced cancer and have been told that there is no curative treatment available so they are trying to fund expensive and sometimes experimental treatments elsewhere.

It is important to remember that all treatments that have been proven to be helpful are available on the NHS and you can talk to your doctor or clinical nurse specialist about your treatment options. It is also important to tell your doctor or nurse about any herbal supplements or nutritional therapies that you are taking to ensure that the supplements don’t react with the cancer treatment.

Some patients want to use crowdfunding to pay for immunotherapy, a cutting-edge treatment, which has been shown to work in some people, but not everyone. Your doctor can let you know if immunotherapy is an option for you. Other people are trying to fund more dubious alternative treatments. Medical experts are concerned that desperate patients may be being given false hope that the treatments will work and are being encouraged to spend money on unproven treatments.

Find out more from the British Medical Journal article
Read the BBC News article and Cancer Research UK’s views

Source: Maggies at the Royal Free