HC Deb 14 July 1998 vol 316 c158W
Mr. Corbyn

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received concerning the needs of those who have received radiotherapy mis-dosage; and if he will make a statement. [50360]

Ms Jowell

Representations have been made by Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure (RAGE), and the Coalition for Unity in Radiotherapy Advice and Guidance (COU-RAGE). These are mutual support groups which have met Ministers and the Chief Medical Officer on several occasions to discuss concerns of their members who have suffered adverse effects following radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer and gynaecological cancers respectively.

The following action has been taken to help women with damage as a result of radiotherapy for breast cancer: in May 1994 the Department issued guidance entitled "Quality Assurance in Radiotherapy—A Quality Management System for Radiotherapy"; the Royal College of Radiologists, at the Department's request, convened a small group of professionals and lay people in autumn 1994 to consider guidelines for care of women who have suffered tissue damage following radiotherapy for breast cancer. This report was issued to the National Health Service by the Department in October 1995; the Royal College of Radiologists carried out a confidential clinical review of 126 women who had suffered injury following radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer at 15 centres in the period 1980–1993. The report published in 1995 makes recommendations on the management of breast cancer, particularly on radiotherapy, and for further research.

With regard to those suffering adverse effects following pelvic radiotherapy for gynaecological cancers, a working group, which included representatives from a number of Royal Colleges, voluntary organisations and the Department, was set up in 1996 to consider the preparation of patient information material concerning possible adverse effects following pelvic radiotherapy and to raise awareness generally. The first booklet was published this year. A sub-group is devising guidelines for health professionals on the care of women suffering adverse effects as a result of pelvic radiotherapy and it is anticipated that further patient information material will follow on from that.