Self-medicating patients at risk of harm says Cancer Research UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer patients who turn to unregulated online pharmacies to order drugs unavailable on the NHS are at risk of "more harm than good", Cancer Research UK has warned.

The warning follows a newspaper investigation which discovered that some patients are turning to online pharmacies, often self-medicating without their doctor's knowledge.

Many of the most popular treatments, such as Avastin for bowel cancer and Tarceva for lung cancer, remain unapproved by UK regulators but are widely promoted online.

"Cancer is a complex illness and requires specialist knowledge and expertise to treat it," said medical director of Cancer Research UK Dr John Toy.

"Cancer drugs are extremely sophisticated and potentially dangerous and, therefore, should always be given under close medical supervision.

"It is very worrying that patients may be purchasing medicines online to treat themselves.

"Anyone thinking of procuring their own drugs should speak to their cancer doctor as it may interfere with their treatment programme and could do them much more harm than good."