THE Great Western Hospital is appealing to the public to help raise vital funds to bring ground-breaking breast cancer treatment to Swindon.
Brighter Futures, the GWH NHS Foundation Trust’s charity which helps to fund new treatments not available through the NHS budget, is hoping to raise £75,000 to help pay for a year’s worth of pioneering treatment.
The GWH would also be only one of a handful of UK hospitals and the only one in the south west offering the intra-operative radiotherapy, which zaps areas affected by breast cancer with radiotherapy while still in the operating room, and could make a huge difference to the lives of up to 150 women a year in Swindon.
It means that, unlike Claude Lindgren, patients can receive targeted radiotherapy rather than having to travel miles to centres in Oxford or Bath for frequent treatment over several weeks.
The 71-year-old from Old Town, who was diagnosed around two years ago, said: “I think it’s brilliant news that we could get this treatment here in Swindon.
“I was quite fortunate because my cancer was quite small, and I only had to go for three weeks of radiotherapy. But I had to travel all the way to Oxford for it, and it involved travelling for an hour each way for only about ten minutes of treatment.
“I was ok because I could drive myself but it can be very difficult for people who don’t have their own cars or need to take time off from work to have the treatment.”
The new treatment, which is being trialled at hospitals in Winchester, Harlow, Dundee and London as part of an international study, should also quicken recovery times and lessen the pain and sensitivity experienced following normal radiotherapy treatment. It is also expected to reduce the risk of infection.
Nathan Coombs, consultant breast surgeon at the GWH, said: “We are very excited about this new treatment because of the difference it could make to the quality of life for our breast cancer patients.
“It’s wonderful to be part of research which can make such a difference.
“After surgery, women have to wait a long time before they have radiotherapy, but with this new treatment they can have it at the same time, while they are still under anaesthetic.
“Travelling to dedicated radiotherapy centres can also be very tiring, and this works out as a far more efficient treatment with the same results.”
But in order to help bring the treatment to Swindon, Brighter Futures needs £12,500 a month to cover the cost of the machine, staffing and special safety equipment.
Jen Green, head of fundraising for Brighter Futures, said: “We really hope that people in Swindon will get behind us because it will make such a difference to people affected by breast cancer.
“We have a number of fundraising events planned in the next couple of months like the Three Cities Cycle challenge, and we really hope people will do their own fundraising too.
“What breast cancer charities are looking to do is raise money for research, and trying to fund cancer treatments, which is what we are trying to do here where we are fundraising for this treatment which can help women in Swindon, locally.”
To help raise the cash, a number of fundraising events are already in place, including a 338 mile Three Cities Cycle Challenge from London to Brussels via Amsterdam in August.
To suggest your own fundraising ideas or get involved with existing events, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01793 605631.
To donate to the Brighter Futures’ Breast Cancer Appeal, visit justgiving.com/brighterfutures3.
HOW IT WORKS
Single dose intra-operative breast radiotherapy takes around 30 minutes to apply and is most suitable in the early stages of cancer.
During the operation the tumour is removed and radiotherapy is targeted with precision into the surrounding breast tissue, which minimises exposure to the body’s other organs, unlike traditional radiotherapy.
It is administered while the patient is still asleep in the operating theatre.
There are no lasting effects and the patient is discharged after the operation later that day.
No other precautions or treatment are necessary following the treatment aside from a yearly check up.