Friday, October 10, 2008

Incompetent NHS anaesthetist kills toddler

A toddler who died after emergency surgery for croup had been left in the care of an inexperienced doctor, an inquest has heard. Indya Trevelyan stopped breathing minutes after two consultants had carried out a complicated procedure to unblock her airway. The 20-month-old had been admitted to hospital with the common childhood respiratory infection, which causes a severe cough. But her breathing became laboured and she was given anaesthetic by staff at the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton.

Brighton Coroner's Court heard consultant surgeons Simon Watts and James McGilligan then carried out an emergency tracheotomy to help her breathe. The child's parents Sian, 37, and Nigel, 43, from Crawley, West Sussex, were told the operation on April 15 had been a success. But staff then informed the couple their daughter was being resuscitated.

The inquest was told the consultants had used stitches to fasten down the tracheotomy tube, which had been threaded into Indya's throat to bypass her swollen airway. They then left anaesthetist Dr David Campbell in charge after they finished - even though he had no experience of tracheotomy. The tube became dislodged when she coughed or moved, and when Dr Campbell tried to reinsert it he ripped out the stitches. Indya suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest which led to her death on April 18, after she was transferred to intensive care at the Evelina Children's Hospital in London.

An interim report from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust concluded her death was 'preventable'. It found the surgeons had 'no plan for the unexpected' and that 'no one took the lead' after she stopped breathing. The report blamed 'weak communication' and stated: 'Indya's preventable death arose out of false assumptions that systems do work.' The hospital is to review doctors' training in the light of the findings.

The inquest heard that Mr McGilligan, an ear, nose and throat specialist, did not leave instructions on how he carried out the operation or how to reinsert the breathing tube. The consultant said: 'I didn't write what the sutures (stitches) were there for, but it was my presumption that anyone would follow why they were there.' He said the stitches had been dislodged by theatre staff trying to replace the tube.

When he realised the tube had blood round it and had become displaced, he moved Indya's windpipe and put the tube back in place. He added: 'In hindsight I would have let everyone in the hospital know what the sutures were there for.' Turning to Indya's parents, he said: 'I want you to know this has rocked our department to the very core. We are terribly saddened by what happened.'

Mrs Trevelyan, who had to be helped into the court by her parents, was clutching Indya's favourite cuddly toy, of the character Laa Laa from the BBC children's television programme Teletubbies. Speaking after the first day of the inquest in August, she described her daughter's treatment as 'appalling'. She said: 'I had dreamt of being a mum for so long. When she first looked up at me the intense love I felt was overwhelming. She was my beautiful angel.'

Croup is an infection of the voice box and the airway to the lungs. It is characterised by a seal-like, barking cough. It affects young children aged between six months and three years. The inquest continues.


BBC's $1,000,000 legal bill for their vicious attack on a private fertility clinic

No big guesses are needed to conclude that the BBC hated the fact that he was both private and much more successful than the NHS

The BBC faces a legal bill of around 500,000 pounds after the collapse of part of its defence to allegations of misleading viewers during a Panorama investigation into a clinic owned by a wealthy fertility expert. Mohamed Taranissi, 54, claimed the flagship current affairs show tricked viewers into believing he enhanced his reputation by offering 'unnecessary and unproven' IVF treatment to wealthy couples desperate to give birth.

During the Panorama investigation into Mr Taranissi an undercover reporter posing as a patient went to one of his Central London clinics, the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre. In the High Court, Richard Rampton QC, for Mr Taranissi, said the BBC's legal argument that it had stuck to the rules of 'responsible journalism' had 'blown up in a puff of smoke' as solicitors probed the depth of its research.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Eady ordered the BBC to make an interim payment to Mr Taranissi, estimated at $1,000,000, covering his legal fees to date after the corporation decided to withdraw one of its defences to his libel action.

Adrienne Page QC, for the BBC, said it could still recover the costs plus extra fees if it successfully defends the libel action on grounds of justification when the full trial begins in January.


How the hippies turned into their parents

They were the generation of free love, mind-expanding drugs and a contempt for all things conventional. Yet as old age approaches for the hippies, rebellion now tends to be the last thing on their mind. Their retirement years are likely to be spent pursuing home improvements, saving for holidays and going for long walks, a study suggests.

They will be richer than their parents were because of decades of rising house prices - but much of their extra money will go on subsidising children and grandchildren.

The main thing which sets them apart is that they will still be playing the same old music they liked when they were young, according to the Government- funded research. The paper, published by the Economic and Social Research Council, suggests that the baby-boom children born between the end of the Second World War and the mid-1950s still think of themselves as young. But they are beginning to behave in much the same way as did their parents.

'Most members of the baby-boom generation - once the first teenagers of a more affluent consumer society - have modest ideas for their retirement,' said the report. 'Most maintain a traditional pattern - watching films and television, playing records or going for long walks.' The study, based on evidence from existing large-scale surveys and detailed interviews with 150 people approaching retirement age, was led by Dr Rebecca Leach of Keele University. It said there was 'only limited evidence that first-wave boomers are developing new third-age lifestyles'.

Dr Leach said: 'Most have fairly modest aspirations, hoping at best to maintain current lifestyles and activities provided health and finances permit them to do so. 'The range of lifestyles is greater than would have been the case with previous generations but there is little evidence of alternative models of consumption.' She said the surveys showed that only around one in 20 of the hippie generation now uses the alternative medicines which were the height of fashion in the 1970s.

Rather than following alternative lifestyles, the baby boomers are the generation obsessed with their houses, the report said. The explosion in home ownership since the 1950s means a third own their homes outright, half have mortgages and one in six have second homes. 'Home improvements form a significant part of boomer lifestyles,' the report said. 'So does increasing value of homes, especially in terms of using housing to fund retirement.'

The harm done to expectations of income from their homes by the credit crunch adds to other financial pressures that early generations did not have. Four out of ten of those in their late 50s still have children living at home. More than a third are also supporting grandchildren, for example by paying for childcare, and around half spend some time or money caring for their own parents.


Vicious metric law enforcement in Britain

Market trader gets a criminal record for selling fruit and veg by the pound

A market trader was convicted yesterday of selling fruit and vegetables using imperial measures - even though the EU says it should not be an offence. Metric martyr Janet Devers, 64, said she had been made a 'scapegoat' after being sentenced for selling goods on her market stall in pounds rather than kilos. The mother of two fought back tears as she was ordered by magistrates to pay almost $10,000 in costs and told she would have a criminal record after being found guilty of eight offences under the Weights and Measures Act.

As part of the landmark case, the greengrocer was also convicted of selling vegetables for $2 a bowl rather than counting them out individually - a practice commonplace amongst Britain's 40,000 market traders who use bowls to help customers baffled by grams and kilograms. Now the pensioner, from Wanstead, East London, faces financial ruin as the costs of fighting the case could see her lose her market stall in nearby Dalston. It has been in the family for more than 60 years since her mother Irene Hunt became one of the first woman to run a stall in the East End during the Blitz.

The verdict, which has outraged campaigners, comes a year after EU said it would no longer force Britain to adopt the metric system of weights and measures. It became illegal to sell any goods in Britain in non-metric weights and measures under the EU's compulsory metrication policy in 2000. In September last year, Gunther Verheugen, European Commission vice president for enterprise and industry, said Brussels never intended to criminalise those who sold in pounds and ounces. But the laws under which Mrs Devers was prosecuted are still on the UK statute books.

Just a few days after Mr Verheugen made his remarks trading standards officials from Hackney Council, supported by two police officers, arrived at Mrs Devers's market stall to confiscate two sets of imperial, non-metric scales.

Today, at Thames Magistrates' Court, in the first UK prosecution since the EU ruling, she was convicted of using imperial scales without an official stamp and selling scotch bonnet peppers, okra, pak choi and peppers in bowls for $2 without giving the quantity or weight of produce in the bowl.

The pensioner was given a two-year conditional discharge, although magistrates accepted that she was only trying to offer customers value for money. Dr Patrick Davies, chairman of the bench, said: 'We note that you said you were doing this in the interests of your customers, although you ought to have known you were breaking the law in doing so.'

Outside court Mrs Devers said: 'I'm incredibly worried about my financial future. I can't believe they prosecuted me for something that every market trader in London - in the UK - is doing. I've been made a scapegoat. 'The fact that they have given me a conditional discharge just shows that they think it is a big mistake to take me to court. 'Having a criminal record means I can't go and see my cousins in America. My daughter wants to go and live out there which means I might not see her. It's farcical.'

A spokesman for Hackney Council said: 'We are satisfied with the outcome of this case, but regret that legal action is required. It would have been much better if Mrs Devers had complied with the law 18 months ago.'


$340,000 a year is spent on an Afghan single mother... A story that sums up the howling insanity of modern Britain

One person who will not be losing any sleep over the impact of the financial crisis is Toorpakai Saiedi, an Afghan mother of seven living in West London and receiving $340,000 a year in benefits. While millions worry about the prospect of losing their jobs, their homes, their savings and their pensions, she is luxuriating in a $2.4 million double-fronted, seven-bedroom Edwardian villa - her staggering rent of more than $24,000 a month picked up by the British taxpayer. Ealing Council has a statutory duty to find accommodation for the family. But because it didn't have anything big enough on its books, it approached a private letting agent - and then agreed a rent five times the going rate.

Saiedi says: 'It's like winning the lottery. It's a lot of money but the council pay it.' This incredible 'Local Housing Allowance' was calculated under new rules introduced in April and is supposed to reflect the market rate, the claimant's income and the number of people living in the house. It's all explained in a leaflet printed in English, Polish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Somali, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh and scribble. I can't even understand the one written in English. Nor work out how they arrived at a rent of 12,458 pounds - when a comparable property in the same street was recently let for 2,500 pounds.

But Mrs Saiedi isn't complaining and neither is her lucky landlord, Ajit Panesar, who is getting the same kind of return from a refugee living in a scruffy suburb as the Duke of Westminster would receive from a maharajah leasing a mansion in Mayfair.

If ever a single news story summed up the howling insanity of Brown's Britain, this surely has to be it. It's difficult to decide on what precise level this lunacy is most outrageous. After the Afghan aircraft hijackers landed at Stansted in 2000, I wrote that in five years' time, they'd still be here. Who could have guessed then that eight years on there would be an estimated 75,000 Afghans in Britain. That's just those we know about. It is not recorded how many of them are working, paying taxes and contributing to the economy and how many, like the Saiedi clan, are living off the State.

Around the time of the hijack, I even invented a spoof game show called ASYLUM!, which is still doing the rounds on the internet. The premise was that all you needed to do was turn up in Britain, utter the magic word 'asylum' and you would be shown directly to a council house and showered with benefits. It was supposed to be a joke, not a template for government. But that is pretty much what Labour's open- door, no-questions-asked immigration policy has amounted to.

We all accept that Britain has a responsibility to take in some of the world's genuine refugees. But the reason we get more than our fair share is because we are both a soft touch and an international laughing stock.

Let me make it clear, I don't blame anyone for coming here to make a better life. But I can't help wondering: if it were not for the lavish benefits on offer how many would bother, when they would clearly be happier in a country with which they were more culturally aligned. It's not the fault of immigrants, or even those international terrorists who set up shop here, that they are allowed to take advantage of our perverse welfare and legal system. It is the fault of those who make the rules and decide how they should be enforced - or not, as the case may be.

Mass immigration is one of the main reasons we have a housing crisis. Council stock has run out. And with local authorities prepared to pay $25,000 a month to private landlords to house an eight-strong family of Afghans, what chance has a local young couple got of ever finding reasonably-priced accommodation?

Given that the explanatory leaflet is printed in so many different languages, it is probably right to assume that the council expects the overwhelming demand for housing benefit to come from foreign nationals....

I sometimes think there are two Britains - one where most of us live and another which the government runs. In this parallel public sector universe, the party never ends. I'm sure the benefit office didn't think twice about doling out $2,500 a month to house the Saiedis. After all, it's not their money. And there's never been any indication that the tap is going to be turned off. The public sector is awash with money. Gordon Brown has hosed them down with our hard-earned cash. Government spending has more than doubled in the past ten years.

And when it looked as if the money was going to run out, Gordon just went on a borrowing spree - which is one of the reasons the International Monetary Fund says Britain is uniquely ill-equipped to cope with the credit crunch.

Officially, there are another 800,000 on the public payroll under Labour, but add in those 'working' for quangos and you can bet it's well over a million. The Guardian jobs supplement yesterday was again offering the usual exciting range of opportunities for 'cluster managers' and 'support facilitators' - salaries up to 86,000 pounds and one for yourself. One in five now works for the State. Not for them the harsh economic realities of the private sector, protected as they are by their taxpayer-funded, gold-plated pensions and index-linked pay packets.

While firms go to the wall every day, there's never any suggestion of clearing out the inefficient, eye-wateringly expensive, unproductive legions of supernumeraries cluttering up town halls and government offices. They spend their days dreaming up new ways to interfere in our lives and waste our money. Any hint that there may have to be economies and Labour, the unions and the BBC start screaming about ' schools'n'ospitals' and 'Tory cuts' and the proposals are quietly abandoned.

At the Conservative conference, George Osborne said that to help people out in difficult times, increases in council tax - which has doubled under Labour - should be capped at 2 per cent. Capped? It should be cut by at least 50 per cent. Councils, predictably, went berserk and said they wouldn't co-operate. They have become addicted to spending and have been encouraged by a profligate government which thinks that at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty it's a good idea to pay an Afghan family $340,000 a year in benefits so they can live in a house way beyond both their means and their wildest dreams. Your best bet for beating the credit crunch is getting a job in government or claiming to be an Afghan asylum seeker.

In the words of Toorpakai Saiedi: 'It's like winning the lottery.' And she didn't even have to buy a ticket. We are all going to hell in a handcart.



The rising price of flights has prompted 50% of Brits to change their travel plans, according to a survey of 2,000 members of European travel portal The poll found that 10% flew less, 21% stayed at home and 4% did not make any long-distance trips.

But only 16% of Brits changed their travel plans due to climate change, and over 80% are skeptical about global warming. In fact, 40% believe it is all media hype and only 4% of respondents have cut back on flying because of environmental concerns.



The future of coal-fired power generation in Europe was called into question yesterday after a European Parliament committee backed new laws that would force power companies to pay for all of their carbon dioxide emissions from 2013.

The decision, which could cost the power industry $46 billion a year and trigger a steep rise in electricity bills, represents a huge boost for Europe's renewable energy industry. It also casts fresh doubt over the likelihood of a œ1.5 billion coal-fired power plant being built at Kingsnorth, Kent, by E.ON, the German power group.

In addition, it flies in the face of British government policy. Last month, John Hutton, the former business secretary, told the Labour Party conference that "no coal . . . equals no lights. No power. No future."

Chris Davies, an MEP who backed the legislation, said that the decision by the European Parliament's environment committee "effectively prevents the building of new coal-fired power plants from 2015 unless equipped with CCS [carbon capture and storage technology]". The new rules require final approval from the European Parliament and EU countries. If granted, they will transform the economics of burning coal to generate electricity.

The move came despite fierce resistance from power industry lobbyists, who said that that the EU's aggressive emissions-cutting targets should be weakened because of the global financial crisis.

Avril Doyle, an Irish MEP on the committee, said: "For all the trouble we have, the single greatest challenge facing us is climate change."

The committee backed proposed changes to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an existing programme in which the bulk of permits are handed out to energy companies for free. Members voted in favour of auctioning all emissions permits after 2013 for power companies. The committee proposed that other polluting industries, such as steelmaking, should pay for 15 per cent of permits in 2013, rising to 100 per cent by 2020. It had been unclear how the ETS programme would evolve after 2012.

The committee also offered to plough $10 billion from the scheme into carbon capture and storage (CCS) research, an untried technology designed to strip out greenhouse gases at source and store them underground.

The bill is a key plank of the EU's plan to reduce Europe's carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. The CBI welcomed the scheme last night, saying that it would provide greater clarity for businesses.

Europe's renewable energy industry also endorsed the decision. Maria McCaffery, of the British Wind Energy Association, said: "This new target underlines the urgency of action to deliver clean, sustainable energy now if we are to keep global temperatures within acceptable limits."

A spokeswoman for E.ON, which relies heavily on coal-fired power stations in Germany, as well as in the UK, said: "We are taking our time to review and assess the decision."

A vote before the full European Parliament is likely in December, although opposition is expected from some heavily coal-dependent countries, such as Poland. France, which has the EU presidency at the moment, wants to enshrine the Bill in law by the end of the year.


"Right and wrong" makes a comeback in British schools

Apparently "extremism" now joins "racism" in being one of the few things that are wrong

Schools are being given advice on how to prevent pupils becoming drawn to violent extremism and terrorism. Guidelines are being made available to primary and secondary schools in England to help them discuss the issues surrounding extremist views. Schools Secretary Ed Balls said schools could play a "key role" in getting young people to reject extremism.

Schools should have a named teacher to whom pupils can report any concerns of grooming by extremist groups. Teachers should protect the well-being of pupils who may be vulnerable to being drawn to extremism, says the government's "Learning together to be safe" kit. ' Mr Balls said the initiative was a direct response to a call from schools for support and advice to tackle extremism. "This is not about asking teachers to be monitors and to be doing surveillance, that's not their job. "But if something concerns them, we want them to know who to turn to for help," he said.

"Violent extremism influenced by Al-Qaeda currently poses the greatest security threat but other forms of extremism and hate- or race-based prejudice are also affecting our communities and causing alienation and disaffection amongst young people," he added. "The toolkit shows how education can be used to tackle all forms of extremism and build a stronger, safer society."

Mr Balls said a security response to terrorism was not enough and that the underlying issues must be addressed. "Our goal must be to empower our young people to come together to expose violent extremists and reject cruelty and violence in whatever form it takes," he said.

Hatch End High School in Harrow, north-west London, is one of the schools that has been involved with producing the guidance. Head teacher Alan Jones said the important thing was to keep children safe and secure. "By bringing things into the open, by discussing these sorts of things in school, we're actually improving the safety of all our children."

Mr Jones said while schools were there to teach academic subjects, they also had a duty to develop the wider person. "It's important to teach about everything in life, to prepare young people to be world citizens," he said. The National Union of Teachers welcomed the guidance, saying violent political groups presented a significant threat to large numbers of people. Acting general secretary Christine Blower said: "Terrorist threats have to be tackled. "It's worth remembering that groups such as those from the far right can pose intimidatory threats to their communities, as serious as those from al-Qaeda."

And Chris Keates of the NASUWT teachers' union welcomed the way the government had taken on board its representations to ensure the toolkit covered the extremism of fascist and racist groups. But Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, was more critical. "We have a duty of care to try to prevent young people descending into illegal activities which could ruin their lives," she said. "But teachers are not trained to deal with radicalisation. We are not spy catchers. "School staff believe in having reasoned discussions with pupils, and will welcome the practical advice in the government's anti-extremism tool-kit which builds on the work already being done in schools and colleges. "

But despite what Ed Balls says, the tool-kit over-emphasises concerns about al-Qaeda, while the reality is that more staff in schools and colleges are trying to combat intolerance towards minority groups such as gays and lesbians and travellers, racism, and violence from animal rights extremists."

Anthony Glees, Professor of security and intelligence studies at the University of Buckingham, said it was wrong to target young children. "It's very important that the government has recognised that school teachers and their pupils need to be alerted to the growing threat of radicalisation amongst the young and MI5 has alerted us to this some time ago. "This is good. It's a sophisticated, security-led tool kit although I have to say putting this over to kids who are five-years-old is ridiculous. This is a problem for 12 years and above. "This is a mistake. You should allow all British children a certain amount of innocence and happy childhood days. They don't need to know all the things they are being told."


Autism genes can add up to genius

No surprise: Intellectual gifts and certain brain disorders are closely related. Autistic people often have exceptional abilities in non-social fields

Some people with autism have amazed experts with their outstanding memories, mathematical skills or musical talent. Now scientists have found that the genes thought to cause autism may also confer mathematical, musical and other skills on people without the condition. The finding has emerged from a study of autism among 378 Cambridge University students, which found the condition was up to seven times more common among mathematicians than students in other disciplines. It was also five times more common in the siblings of mathematicians.

If confirmed, it could explain why autism - a disability that makes it hard to communicate with, and relate to, others - continues to exist in all types of society. It suggests the genes responsible are usually beneficial, causing the disease only if present in the wrong combinations. "Our understanding of autism is undergoing a transformation," said Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the autism research centre at Cambridge, who led the study. "It seems clear that genes play a significant role in the causes of autism and that those genes are also linked to certain intellectual skills." parent association between autism and intellectual gifts in specific fields. This has made autism a hot topic in popular culture, from films such as Rain Man, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, to books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

Some people with autism have become renowned for their creativity. The British artist Stephen Wiltshire, 34, was mute as a child and diagnosed with classic autism. He began drawing at the age of five and soon completed cityscapes. One of his feats was to draw a stunningly detailed panoramic view of Tokyo from memory after a short helicopter ride. He has since opened a gallery.

Autism and the related Asperger's syndrome are among the commonest mental afflictions, affecting about 600,000 Britons. Boys are four times as likely as girls to develop it. Autistic people can have special skills but they also tend to suffer from anxiety, obsessive behaviour and other problems that far outweigh any advantages.

The fact that autism runs in families shows that it is partly genetic in origin, but evolutionary theory suggests genes causing such a debilitating conditions ought to have been weeded out of the population. The Cambridge study hints at why this has not happened, suggesting that with variations in the way they are combined, such genes are beneficial.

On their own, such studies have to be treated cautiously because the numbers involved are small. In the Cambridge study, seven of 378 maths students were found to be autistic, compared with only one among the 414 students in the control group. Other studies, however, have found similar patterns. Baron-Cohen, whose cousin Sacha Baron Cohen is the comic actor behind the Ali G and Borat characters, said: "Separate studies have shown that the fathers and grandfathers of children with autism are twice as likely to work in engineering. Science students also have more relatives with autism than those in the humanities."

His research, set out last week in a meeting at the Royal Society, coincides with separate research showing nearly a third of people with autism may have "savant" skills. Patricia Howlin, professor of clinical child psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, studied 137 people with autism; 39 of them (29%) possessed an exceptional mental skill. The most common was outstanding memory. She said: "It had been thought that only about 5%-10% of people with autism had such skills, but nobody had measured it properly, and it seems the number is far higher. If we could foster these skills, many more people with autism could live independently and even become high achievers."

The idea that autism may have positive aspects is finding favour among some of those with the condition. Some resent being labelled disabled and have begun describing those without autism as "neurotypicals" to make the point that they could be the ones missing out. Professor Allan Snyder, director of the centre for the mind at the University of Sydney, said: "Autism ranges from the classical picture of severe mental impairment at one end of the spectrum to Nobel prize-win-ning genius at the other. Both extremes have core autistic features, such as preoccupation with detail, obsessional interests and difficulties in understanding other people's perspectives."

Temple Grandin, 61, was diagnosed with autism as a child and is now professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University. She said: "People with autism have played a vital role in human evolution and culture. Before computers it would have taken someone with an autistic-type memory to design great cathedrals, while scientists such as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein show every sign of having been autistic. The world owes a great deal to those who design and programme computers, many of whom show autistic traits."

For Baron-Cohen the next step is to find the genes linked with autism; he is working with Professor Ian Craig of King's College to scan the DNA of hundreds of autistic people - and of mathematicians. For latest papers on autism research, go to

A concert at the Savoy Theatre in London's west end will tonight showcase musicians with autism, and an exhibition starting tomorrow at London's Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) in the Mall features the art of people with autism. For details go to Autism Art and Music Details at:

The Autism Research Centre has produced The Transporters, a DVD-based animation that helps autistic children to learn about emotions by looking at faces on mechanical vehicles. The Transporters DVD (aimed at children with autism) is available online at


Chemotherapy drug `is safer cure for testicular cancer'

Sounds very good news

A single injection of a chemotherapy drug can cure a common type of testicular cancer, researchers say. Carboplatin, which is often used to treat ovarian and lung cancer, can replace radiotherapy to cure early-stage seminoma, which mainly affects men in their 40s, a study has found. The drug is being hailed as a "safer cure" for the cancer by experts, with fewer long-term risks.

Testicular cancers are usually either seminomas or nonseminomas. About 40 to 45 per cent of testicular cancers are early-stage seminomas - accounting for 800 cases each year in Britain. Patients are usually first treated with surgery to remove the testis where the disease is detected, but the cancer can develop in the other testis in one in 20 men.

Patients given carboplatin experienced fewer side-effects and were able to return to their normal lives earlier than those undergoing radiotherapy, prompting experts to hail the treatment as a "safer cure" for seminoma. In the largest trial for the disease, funded by the Medical Research Council, a carboplatin injection was used to treat 573 patients with early-stage seminoma and compared with two or three weeks of daily radiotherapy, the standard treatment, given to 904 patients. Of the patients given carboplatin, 5 per cent relapsed - virtually all within three years - and after further successful treatment, none had died from their testicular cancer.

Ben Mead, honorary senior lecturer in medical oncology at the University of Southampton, who led the study, said: "We were pleased by the results of this huge trial. Giving patients a carboplatin injection rather than radiotherapy is less unpleasant with fewer long-term risks."


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