Despite the fact that Interleukin-2 is the most powerful drug we have against metastatic kidney cancer, citizens of these countries have had trouble getting IL-2 treatment. Fortunately, this does appear to be changing of late and I understand that IL-2 has now been approved for use in all three countries, though I am not sure whether it is fully approved for reimbursement in the public health system in these countries. At any rate, IL-2 may still not be in common use, with many doctors prescribing interferon, hormone therapy, or even telling their patients that nothing can be done. Patients in these countries who want IL-2 should mount a concerted search to find a doctor who is willing and able to give it, and may have to fight for reimbursement.

Patients in the UK should contact Kidney Cancer UK which will refer you to doctors who give IL-2. (Kidney Cancer UK is an energetic group which I heartily recommend to all kidney cancer patients in the UK.) Patients in Australia should check the Australian Kidney Cancer On-Line Support Page. While there is very little on the page itself, it may help you network with other Australians with kidney cancer.

The situation in Canada is also difficult. IL-2 is approved and for high dose treatment but as far as I know High Dose IL-2 is available at only one hospital in Canada, Montreal Jewish General Hospital. Each province has its own policy on whether they reimburse for the treatment. It varies widely and is in flux. Sometimes when reimbursement is approved, patients are sent to the United States for high dose treatment. It is my impression that many doctors in Canada do not favor use of IL-2, and also that you may be able to get the treatment reimbursed if you appeal. If you have private health insurance they are likely to cover. If you are in Canada and are interested in IL-2 treatment, I suggest calling Chiron Canada at (877) 779-7788 for advice on obtaining IL-2.

In short, if you are from any of these countries, and have metastatic kidney cancer, and if your doctor hasn’t mentioned IL-2, it’s time to fight. Your weapons are knowledge, reason, and determination. If you are from Canada, knowledge of the health care system and how to appeal to get special treatments approved will be especially useful.

This CancerGuide Page By Steve Dunn. © Steve Dunn
Page Created: January 24, 2003, Last Updated: February 2, 2004