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Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations she has received about extending availability of brachytherapy to men with prostate cancer; (101333)

(2) what assessment she has made of the availability of brachytherapy;

(3) what the total spending was on brachytherapy treatments for men with prostate cancer in the last year for which figures are available;

(4) what steps she is taking to widen access to brachytherapy for men with prostate cancer.

Since September 2005 the Department has received 13 letters and three parliamentary questions on brachytherapy.

On 22 November the Department issued advice to the national health service on the development of low dose rate prostate brachytherapy services in England. Copies have been placed in the Library.

This advice includes details of where prostate brachytherapy is known to be provided. It does not include information about total spend on prostate brachytherapy as this information is not collected centrally. However, it does include information about the potential costs of introducing and running a prostate brachytherapy service.

The document is aimed at strategic health authorities, cancer networks, primary care trusts and NHS trusts in England and recommends that each cancer network should be able to refer appropriate patients to facilities offering prostate brachytherapy. It also provides advice on what a prostate brachytherapy service should look like. Although the advice is not mandatory, the NHS is encouraged to take the advice into account as it develops, provides or commissions brachytherapy services.