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New equipment to benefit women with cancer

12 April 2018

Health Care

Southend University Hospital is the first Trust in the country to use a £30,000 state-of the-art Venezia applicator for gynaecological cancer treatment.

It's only been made possible through the massive fundraising efforts of several groups, including Rayleigh Lions who raised £3,000, New Leaf Distribution added another £5,000, the Pickering family raised £6,400 and the COPES (Cervical, Ovarian, Perineal, Endometrial Support) gynaecological support group added a further £16,500.

James Green, Head of Radiotherapy at Southend, said: "This appeal money has bought us the very latest type of applicator for gynaecological cancer, that is a far more effective treatment, and which will be a huge benefit to around 20 patients a year."

The applicator benefits patients who previously would not have been able to receive brachytherapy treatment - a form of high-dose rate radiotherapy - in the past, by allowing treatment to reach cancer which has spread away from the cervix and which would have previously been inaccessible.

James added: "One of the things I find personally gratifying about this kind of treatment is that, after each time we do a scan on following days, we can see that the tumour has shrunk, and that's quite a privilege as normally you see them getting better over a period of months and years. You can see the tumour responding before your very eyes."

In a recent study, cervical cancer patients who received brachytherapy as a boost after external beam radiotherapy had a 12 per cent better four-year survival rate than those who did not. And 3D image-guided brachytherapy was found to be beneficial for patients with locally advanced cervical cancer.

Previously, the hospital's equipment only allowed the treatment to be delivered within a limited distance from the patient's cervix so that some women with more advanced cervical cancers had to be referred to Mount Vernon Hospital in north London or be treated at Southend with alternative but less effective means.

Wendy Davies, from COPES, one of the groups who helped raise money for the new equipment which means that this is a thing of the past, said: "The Venezia applicator will make a huge difference, particularly to younger women who are diagnosed, in terms of more effective and more comfortable treatment."