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Cancer Fund 'has saved lives'
A cash pot used to pay for cancer drugs has saved lives the Prime Minister has said, on the day he announced an extension to its funding.
David Cameron said the Cancer Drug Fund, worth £200 million a year, had been accessed by 35,000 people and was a "massive success".
He said: "People have lived longer and in some cases it has saved people's lives. I just met one man from Hampshire who wouldn't be here were it not for the Cancer Drugs Fund and the treatments that he got. He is now cancer free."
Mr Cameron was speaking after meeting patients both young and old who have been battling cancer and getting treatment at The John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford.
He announced the fund's extension on the eve of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
The Cancer Drugs Fund was set up for patients in England to access drugs approved by doctors but which have not been given the go-ahead for widespread use on the NHS.
The aim of the fund was to make it easier for medics to prescribe treatments even if they have not yet been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice).
The scheme was set to run until 2014 and campaigners raised concerns about where patients will turn to when the funding ceased.
But today, David Cameron said that the funding programme will run for an extra two years to March 2016.
Asked about criticism that inflation meant the extension of the programme was nevertheless a cut in the amount of cash in the fund in real terms, he said it was "going to help many people".
"Thousands of people have already been helped and this will mean many more people can access it in the years to come," he said.