Hospital plans radical radiotherapy treatment
BREAST cancer patients could start receiving radiotherapy treatment in Swindon next year.
Great Western Hospital has applied for funding to give radiotherapy to some patients during their operation, which may mean selected patients with breast cancer no longer have to travel to Oxford and Bath for treatment.
The development would make the hospital one of the first in the country to offer a radical new treatment, where radiotherapy is given immediately after the patient has had surgery.
The Trust is still in negotiations for a dedicated radiotherapy centre for all patients, which was at the centre of an Adver campaign two years ago, but this development would allow treatment to be given locally for about 100 to 150 breast cancer patients a year.
Consultant breast surgeon Nathan Coombs said: “Swindon is looking to be one of a few places in the country to give radiotherapy to patients during the operation.
“We are going to be part of an international trial looking at the effectiveness of a different type of radiotherapy which may mean some patients don’t have to travel to Oxford or Bath for treatment.
“We would do the operation and then while the patient is still asleep we would give them radiotherapy,” he said.
“Each patient will need to be carefully discussed in our weekly multi-disciplinary team meetings and patient selection for this technique needs careful thought and planning.
“It is radical and only a handful of places do it.”
Currently, once patients have breast cancer surgery, they go to Oxford or Bath for between three to six weeks every day for radiotherapy to the breast. This reduces the risk of the cancer returning.
GWH has applied to the Medical Research Council and Cancer Research for the £500,000 equipment, which is called Intrabeam, and is made by the German com-pany Zeiss.
They are waiting to find out if they have been successful.
GWH would be the fourth hospital in the country to offer this type of treatment, following a private hospital in London, Winchester and a hospital in Dundee.
“In London, they have equivalent survival rates as traditional radiotherapy but its use will reduce the need for the daily travel to and from the radiotherapy centres,” said Mr Coombs.
“There seems to be less skin sensitivity after its use, compared with traditional radiotherapy.
“We are very aware how much people travel for cancer treatment. The trust is committed to this as a way to treat our patients locally.
“In the medium term the Trust is negotiating with Oxford to build and run a dedicated radiotherapy centre in Swindon in the future.
“A local radiotherapy centre at the GWH has always been our goal. It would be brilliant and would really put our cancer treatment on the map.”
Tracey Kidman-Pepper, of Marlborough Road, was diagnosed with the disease when she was 35 and will have been in remission for five years in November.
She had radiotherapy in Oxford five days a week for six weeks during her treatment.
“This is great news and will make a huge difference. I found it really difficult going to Oxford when I went through radiotherapy,” she said.
“It takes over an hour to get there for a 10-minute appointment,”
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