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Getting private treatment

Coping with cancer

This page tells you about getting private treatment if you come to the UK from overseas.


Who can get treatment on the NHS

We are often asked about access to UK treatment from abroad. Some people may be able to get treatment on the NHS if that treatment is not available in their own country. 

Go to NHS Choices website for more information

Any person from any country can come to the UK for treatment if they can afford to pay for it. But it is important to think about this carefully. Are you sure there is treatment available in the UK that you cannot get at home? Are you looking for standard treatment for cancer? Or are you looking for experimental treatment because the standard treatment has already been tried? If you are looking for experimental treatment then you will need to go to a major cancer hospital that is researching that particular type of cancer or treatment.

The best person to talk to about all this is the doctor treating you in your own country. Your doctor will know which treatments are being researched for your type of cancer. And will probably be able to recommend a doctor or hospital in the UK, if necessary.


Finding a specialist

Cancer Research UK is not able to recommend cancer specialists. But you can find details of UK specialists on the following websites

Some specialists are willing to give a private medical opinion without the patient needing to travel to the UK.



It is impossible to say how much treatment in the UK will cost. A private consultation with a cancer specialist will cost anything from £100 upwards. At the appointment you can talk about the tests and treatments and how much they might be. But the doctor will not be able to tell you the final cost because your medical needs will change as you are treated.

Unfortunately surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are all very expensive treatments and the cost of cancer treatment can run into thousands of pounds. There could also be unexpected costs, such as the cost of treating infections you may develop during your treatment.

You will need to include the cost of somewhere to stay when you are not in hospital, together with general living expenses. And you will probably need a relative or friend with you who will have living costs too.


Funding from Cancer Research UK

We are sorry, but it is not possible for us to help with funding for the treatment of individual people in any circumstances. We are are a registered charity and have to keep to the remit laid down for us in our registration. Our charity role is to research the prevention and treatment of cancer. We are simply not allowed by law to pay people's medical bills.


Joining clinical trials

We are also asked if it is possible to join a UK clinical trial from overseas. In theory, it would be possible. But again, you need to consider costs. It is unlikely that private health insurance would pay for you to join a phase 1 or phase 2 trial. This is because these trials deal with treatments that are still experimental. It may be possible that a private health insurance would pay for a phase 3 trial. But on the whole, this is unlikely. Treatments researched in phase 3 trials have not yet been proven to be any better than the standard treatment already available.


Emergency treatment

If you are visiting the UK and need urgent treatment you can call an ambulance or go to a hospital accident and emergency department. You will be given the treatment you need. All treatment in accident and emergency departments is free. But if you stay in hospital, you will have to pay the costs of the treatment you receive.

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Updated: 19 May 2016