Anyone from overseas can come to the UK for private treatment if they can afford to pay for it. But it's important to think about this carefully.
Cancer treatment is free to people who live in the United Kingdom. If you do not normally live here, you will have to pay for your treatment. This is the case even if you:
- are a British citizen
- have lived or worked here in the past
- have a HC2 certificate because you have a low income
There are some exceptions.
Should I choose private treatment in the UK?
There are some things you might want to think about. 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 you have already tried the standard treatment?
If you're looking for experimental treatment, 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 of this is the doctor treating you in your own country. Your doctor will know about research into treatments for your type of cancer. And they 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 several websites. Some specialists are willing to give a private medical opinion without you needing to travel to the UK.
It's impossible to say how much treatment in the UK will cost.
A private consultation with a cancer specialist will cost £100 upwards. You can ask them how much the tests and treatments you need might be. But the doctor will not be able to tell you the final cost, because your medical needs will change as you have treatment.
Unfortunately, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are all very expensive treatments. 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. They will have living costs too. The accommodation would ideally be near the hospital where you are having treatment. It can be extremely expensive as you may need to stay in the country for a few weeks or even months.
Funding from Cancer Research UK
We are sorry, but we're not able to help with funding for the treatment of individual people in any circumstances.
We are a registered charity and we have to keep to the area of activity set out in our registration. Our charity role is to research the prevention and treatment of cancer. The law does not allow us to pay people's medical bills.
Joining clinical trials
In theory, it is possible to join a UK clinical trial from overseas. 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 private health insurance would pay for a phase 3 trial. But this is also unlikely. Treatments being researched in phase 3 trials have not yet been proven to be any better than the standard treatment already available.
If you're visiting the UK and need urgent treatment, you can call an ambulance (999) or go to a hospital accident and emergency department (A&E). All the treatment you get 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.