Sir Alex Ferguson is calling for Government and public funding to develop PDT - a new style of cancer treatment that kills cancers with a single session and without the side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The United manager says the public has a right to have PDT (Photodynamic Therapy) urgently developed to treat a range of cancers. Currently, it is only available in the UK for skin, head and neck, mouth, lung and oesophageal cancers. Experimentally it is being developed for brain, pancreatic, bile duct, vulval, penile and prostate cancers.
“My father got bowel cancer at 47 and had to have a colostomy," says Sir Alex.
"One week after he retired, the cancer came back in his lungs and he died a year later, aged 66. My mother was a smoker all her life and anyone who does that runs the risk of cancer at some point. She got lung cancer and died a year after my father. She was 64.
"I've also had many friends who've died from cancer. It is one of those diseases that everyone prays we will find an answer for."
PDT kills cancer cells through a combination of drug and light, which starves the cancer of oxygen allowing the body to heal and create new, healthy cells. Despite being approved by the NHS for the treatment of some cancers, fewer than 300 of the 300,000 patients diagnosed with cancer killers received it last year.
The treatment has the ability to destroy cancers usually with a single 20-minute session, avoiding the need for invasive surgery and the traumatic effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It is also cost-effective. The cost of the drug used in treating skin cancer, for example, is just £235, an enormous saving when compared to all other treatments, including drug therapies, offered by the NHS.
"I wish PDT had been there 30 odd years ago. It could have given my mother and father a chance and a choice of what they went through," says Sir Alex.
"I think it’s fantastic what