New machine at Salisbury Hospital cuts breast cancer patients' need for further operations (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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New machine at Salisbury Hospital cuts breast cancer patients' need for further operations
2:07pm Friday 13th April 2012 in News
Breast cancer patients who go to Salisbury District Hospital are benefitting from a new machine that detects if the disease has spread to a lymph node, while they are undergoing surgery.
It means that if further cancer is detected the patient can be operated on straight away rather than having a second operation.
Patients who have an operation to remove a lump or a breast also have the first lymph node (called the sentinel node) removed from their armpit to check if that is cancerous.
The hi-tech machine enables the sentinel node to be analysed while the patient is under anaesthetic and if cancer cells are found the surgeon can operate to remove other lymph nodes there and then.
Previously the results on the sentinel node would be available one or two weeks later and if positive patients would have had to go back for a second operation.
The machine, which is based in the hospital’s pathology department, cost £70,000 and Salisbury is one of just 14 hospitals in the UK to have it. The machine is also widely used in Spain and Japan.
Vicky Brown, consultant breast surgeon at the hospital, said: "The test results on the sentinel node are back in 40 minutes which is brilliant. It’s so good for patients.
"If it’s a positive result they have the slight comfort that surgery will happen straight away. They are likely to have to go on to other treatment such as chemotherapy and it means that treatment can start sooner."
Miss Brown used the machine when she worked as a registrar in Portsmouth and recommended it to her bosses at Salisbury.
She said: "It shows excellent results and for me it’s a no brainer, it’s so good for patients.
"We have used it on six patients at Salisbury so far and they love it.
"It’s a real positive move forward for our patients as there are only a few hospitals in the country which use this new machine.
"It’s essential that we do not carry out any more surgery than we have to and this is another example of where advances in technology and less invasive surgical techniques can have a considerable impact on the way we are able to treat patients at Salisbury District Hospital."
The hospital treats 200 breast cancer patients a year and in about 25 per cent of those the cancer will have spread to their sentinel node.
The new machine will not result in the hospital seeing more breast cancer patients but will free up slots in the operating theatres.