WOMEN eligible to receive a trail-blazing breast cancer treatment will be looked after under one roof in the Great Western Hospital’s dedicated breast centre.
The breast centre brings together a range of different experts in the field of breast cancer care, including radiologists, radiographers, surgeons, breast care clinical nurse specialists, oncologists, pathologists, cytologists and administrative staff, in order to make each woman’s journey as comfortable as possible.
The hospital trust’s charity, Brighter Futures, is trying to raise £75,000 to fund a year’s worth of intra-operative radiotherapy treatment.
The pioneering treatment has the potential to make a life-changing difference to how 150 women in Swindon recover from the disease each year.
Suzie Ferrari, breast centre manager at the hospital, said: “In the past the women who came in had to go and see the surgeon upstairs and then come down to the clinic and get undressed for their biopsy and mammogram and then go back upstairs again, but the centre brings everything into one place.
“It also means that everything can be done in one day and we can get the results to them much quicker.
“Everybody knows how stressful it is waiting. Having the cancer itself is incredibly stressful but it is also very stressful waiting to find out whether you have it or not. “Being able to do all the tests in one place and in one day really goes some way to relieving that.
“But there is a great sense of team work too, and nothing would happen if we weren’t all working together to bring it about.”
For administrative assistant Pamela Durston, working on the front desk can be particularly intense as everyone who comes into the centre passes by her desk.
She said: “I love working here. It is such a good team and it’s great to be doing what I can just to help other people.
“It can be really hard when people come in and you know them and it does happen quite a lot surprisingly.”
Nathan Coombs, the consultant breast surgeon leading the project, is excited that the hospital could have the machine as early as June.
Essential checks – including a test run with a teddy bear for a patient – will be carried out before the treatment is used on patients from September.
He said: “My hope is that in November the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will approve the treatment and it will become available for all women on the NHS.
“Since we will already have the treatment available it might draw women who travel a little further afield, to Reading for instance, to the GWH.
“This might in turn lead to more funding from the NHS for breast cancer care.”