'Last-ditch' cancer care for Harrison

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The former Beatle George Harrison is having treatment in New York in a last-ditch attempt to rid himself of cancer, newspapers reported yesterday.

The musician is said to have checked into the Staten Island University Hospital under the surname Arrias, the maiden name of his wife, Olivia.

He is thought to be receiving radiosurgery, a technique that delivers radiation with pinpoint accuracy to destroy tumours, from Dr Gil Lederman, a leading oncologist. The treatment, available on the NHS at London's Royal Marsden hospital and the Royal Hallamshire in Sheffield, is normally used to treat brain tumours.

Mr Harrison, 58, a former heavy smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year after being treated for throat cancer three years ago.

Dr Lederman claimed last year thatpatients considered hopeless to whom he had givenradiosurgeryremained disease free after 10 years, although he admitted it was a "lottery". He was speaking about patients with primary brain tumours. Lung cancer has a poor prognosis, with 95 per cent of patients dying within five years.

A source at the Staten Island hospital was quoted as saying that Mr Harrison looked "frail and gaunt".