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UPDATED: Advocacy Groups Demand More Access to New Breast Cancer Treatment

'There are claims hundreds of New Zealand women are missing out on the latest technology to significantly speed up the treatment of early stage breast cancer.' This article and video from One News says 'The treatment (Intra-Operative Radiotherapy) provides a one-off, single dose of radiation to the cancerous breast at the time of lumpectomy surgery, eradicating the need for patients to travel to hospital post-surgery to receive the radiation necessary to prevent the cancer's return.'

The article claims that 'In New Zealand there are currently six health insurers who cover this treatment for their members, however the country's largest insurer Southern Cross does not.' Two of those health insurers are Tower and OnePath, which are both now under the nib banner, with ANZ distributing the nib product. 

Southern Cross disputes the efficacy of IORT. It has reviewed the effectiveness of the treatment twice, finding results were mixed: 

  • "IORT patients showed a higher rate of cancer recurrence
  • The treatment was so new that non-inferiority had not yet been established in the available data
  • The treatment was still considered experimental."

They add that:

"...Southern Cross is currently undertaking an assessment of IORT and is waiting on data to confirm its clinical safety and effectiveness. If the results are favourable, and the decision is made to add IORT to the list of benefits covered by our insurance policies, we will advise members of this."

 

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