The European Medicines Agency is prepared to look at alternative treatments for rare cancers-including all childhood cancers-after it heard that conventional medicine has no answers.
Alternative and innovative therapies should be considered for 'rare' cancers-which include 186 different cancers and all childhood cancers-as long as the patient's safety wasn't jeopardised, says Dr Paolo Casali, chairman of the Rare Cancers Europe group, in a report to the EMA. The 'rare' cancers make up 20 per cent of all cancer cases.
It's impossible to carry out large randomised trials on the effectiveness of alternative treatments for rare cancers because, by definition, there are too few people to participate in the studies.
But it's not just down to scientific trials, Markus Wartenberg, from a patient representative group, told the EMA; it's also because conventional medicine doesn't have any answers. "Patients don't understand endpoints. Every day patients are dying. We need access to treatment, we need better treatments and for some rare cancers, we simply need a treatment because there is no treatment at all."
(Source: Annals of Oncology, 2014; doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdu459)