Steve Brine has welcomed news that a new service benefitting breast cancer patients has arrived at RHCH, already a world-wide centre of excellence for breast surgery.
The new One Step Nucleic acid Amplification (OSNA) can detect if cancer cells have spread to the lymph nodes in the armpit, and can be carried out at the same time as surgery to remove tumours and reconstruct the breast.
If the test shows the cancer has spread the lymph nodes can be removed immediately whilst the patient is still under anaesthetic. This saves the patient having to wait for pathology tests and possibly undergo further operations. If the result is negative the patient can be told as soon as they wake up from the anaesthetic that the cancer has not spread.
The benefits of this technology include a faster diagnosis and subsequent delivery of appropriate treatment as well as a reduced overall hospital stay and a less stressful experience for the patient.
The treatment works by the surgeon removing the sentinel nodes in the armpit and sending them straight to the lab where a special machine can detect if the cancer has spread. This takes about 40 minutes, and the result is given immediately to the operating theatre. Previously the sample would have been sent for pathology tests and the results would not be available for several days.
Winchester MP Steve Brine, who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Breast Cancer, said; "One of the many awful things about a breast cancer diagnosis is constantly having to wait for the next thing, be it a test result or specific treatment to start.
"We know early detection of the initial tumour is vital in improving outcome rates but catching any spread to the lymph nodes is critical if we are to drive down secondary incidence. Once again the Royal Hampshire is leading in this area that sadly affects so many women locally."
If the patient also receives Intra-operative Radiotherapy Treatment (IORT) at the same time, all their treatment could be carried out in one sitting, rather than being spread over a period of weeks or months.
The Royal Hampshire County Hospital is the first in the NHS South Central area to use OSNA, and one of only ten hospitals in the country. It is the only hospital in the country that also offers IORT in addition. The Trust is one of five sites across the UK to provide IORT which directly targets radiotherapy to the site of the tumour resulting in a better cosmetic outcome, less tissue damage and vastly reduced need for radiotherapy sessions.
One patient, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, said: “Finding I had cancer just before Christmas was a shock but within two weeks I had had a biopsy, an ultrasound scan and had met with the consultant. A week later I had the operation and it was such a relief to wake up and know straight away that the cancer hadn’t spread.
“I was also given IORT during the operation so everything was done in one go, it is brilliant not to have to go back for any more treatment, although I will have regular checkups for some time to come”.
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