New treatments seem to be appearing every month and that is good news for patients. I have a personal connection to this one though. In 2014, Chris and I walked along Hadrian’s Wall, a 2,000-year-old World Heritage structure in Northern England. This was part therapy for me but also part fund-raising to help pay for this new treatment which launches today in Southampton General Hospital (UK) which was recently awarded the coveted title of European NET Centre of Excellence (along with Bournemouth and Portsmouth Hospitals). It is the first ever deployment of this type of treatment in UK and Chris and I were happy to shred the soles of our feet to support this worthy cause, particularly when the two guys behind the idea were my surgeon (Mr Neil Pearce) and my Interventional Radiologist (Dr Brian Stedman). Both of these brilliant and skilled people ‘worked on me’ for 12 months in 2010/2011 and I live to tell you this tale! Shortly after my surgery, they decided to set up PLANETS to focus on providing additional support for Neuroendocrine Cancer and other types such as Pancreatic and Liver in which they specialised.
Intra-Operative Radiotherapy (IORT) provided by Mobetron is a bit of a game changer for advanced cancers which are hard to treat and remove. This development is said to be at the cutting edge of modern radiation oncology. Despite the heading, this treatment can be used for many cancers including Neuroendocrine, Pancreatic, Colorectal and Bladder. It is a mobile version and can be moved to different operating theatres. There are plans to eventually extend the portfolio to include Head and Neck, Oesophageal, Lung, Breast and Cervical cancers. The technology can also be used on Brain tumours but there are currently no plans to offer this service.
The radiotherapy is applied during surgery which means the treatment can be delivered more directly without causing damage to surrounding tissue and organs. It’s worth adding at this stage that this type of radiotherapy is not the same as PRRT. Moreover, it is not designed to replace PRRT which remains an option for patients downstream if they still need it (in addition to other treatments such as Sirtex, liver emobolisatons). Clearly dosage calculations would be required for cumulative radiation exposure over short timescales. Worth noting that PRRT currently remains denied to patients in England.
The type of radiotherapy is more similar to conventional external beam systems and the key advantage is that it can be used for areas where tumours have just been removed or part removed or in locations which have a tendency to recur; and for inoperable tumours such as those surrounding vital structures. Examples include: bulky pancreatic tumours, inoperable mesenteric root lymph node deposits, difficult pelvic tumours, metastases around the bladder, rectum or uterus and ovaries. It follows that in addition to treating certain tumours earlier than would normally be possible, IORT may preclude the need for further treatment or at least extend the period post surgery where further treatment would be required.
Clearly there is a lot of excitement surrounding this first ever deployment of IORT which has raised the profile of Neuroendocrine Tumours in the UK national press – check out this article in the Daily Mail by clicking here. There is a useful animated video to watch by clicking here.
The official launch happened on Mon 13 Jun 2016 and Chris and I were very proud to attend.
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