Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Assembly Member Angela Burns used a question to the Cabinet Secretary for Health this week to call for 5-AminoLevulinic Acid, more commonly referred to as 5-ALA or Pink Drink, to be used by surgeons treating Brain Tumours in South Wales.
Scientists have identified over 150 kinds of brain tumour and figures from 2015 show that 811 people were diagnosed with brain tumours in Wales. Locally in Hywel Dda Health Board between 2011 and 2015 a total of 191 malignant brain and central nervous system tumours were registered. According to research by the Brian Tumour charity the patient experience for this type of cancer is ranked lower than other cancer experiences.
The 5-ALA treatment is a way of aiding neurosurgeons in achieving a higher percentage of tumour removal with research showing a 30% increase in successful removal rate when using this tool.
For North Wales patients the centre of excellence is based in Liverpool and Health Boards across England are able to make use of 5-ALA, but even though the tool has been approved for use in Wales, the centre of excellence for the rest of Wales University Hospital Cardiff, has opted not to use it.
Commenting Angela said “It is very concerning that 5 ALA which has a proven track record of providing better outcomes for patients with a brain tumour is not being made available to over half of welsh patients.
“I asked the Cabinet Secretary to look into this matter at Health Questions as it does not seem right that there is a 30% difference in the success of surgery dependent on which part of Wales that you live in.
“All cancers are horrible diseases, but we have a duty to ensure that patients have access to the best possible care and technology available. Sadly at the moment in the case of this treatment it does not seem to be the case”.