New hope for breast cancer patients

FRESH hope emerged for breast cancer patients today as Ipswich Hospital announced it was taking part in a cutting edge trial of a new form of treatment.

FRESH hope emerged for breast cancer patients today as Ipswich Hospital announced it was taking part in a cutting edge trial of a new form of treatment.

The hospital's patients will be among the first in the country to benefit from a hi-tech form of radiotherapy which, it is hoped, will eventually lead to cancer sufferers needing lower doses of radiotherapy.

The hospital, in Heath Road, is pioneering the use of new technology for the trial, which could revolutionise the way breast cancer is treated and help save thousands of lives.

Patients who are taking part in the trial have small gold 'seeds' implanted into the affected breast when their tumours are removed.

When the patient returns for radiotherapy the seeds then show up, acting as a guide to where the radiotherapy needs to be focused.

Andrew Poynter, the hospital's cancer research lead, said: “The normal procedure has been to give radiotherapy to the whole breast after the tumour has been removed to make sure any remaining cancerous cells are destroyed.

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“Using this new procedure, we implant gold marker seeds in the breast cavity following the surgery. The radiotherapy equipment we use can then locate the position of these markers at every treatment.”

The dose of radiation can then be pinpointed to where there is the highest risk of cancer recurring.

The new machinery is known as an On-Board Imager and uses low-energy (kilovoltage) imaging, which means patients receive higher quality images and much lower radiation doses than with traditional high-energy (megavoltage) imaging.

The results of the study will go towards a national, multi-centre trial called Import High, which is led by Professor John Yarnold from the Institute for Cancer Research.

Andrew Reed, the hospital's chief executive, said: “Our radiotherapy department already has a reputation for being at the cutting edge of cancer treatment in the UK.

“The advent of this image-guided radiotherapy allows us to take our treatments to a new level of precision.”

Weblink: www.ipswichhospital.nhs.uk

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