Interventional oncology for liver cancer - patient stories

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The patients of the interventional oncology team share their stories and experiences of the treatment they received.  


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"I suffer from ocular melanoma, a rare condition that is considered terminal once it metastasises to the liver.  Historically, there have been no effective treatments for managing tumour growth and life expectancy has been very limited.  I presented with liver metastasis in September 2013 and, after having an immediate TACE (Trans Arterial Chemoembolisation) to buy me time to line up my first Delcath treatment, I had my first procedure in December 2013, followed by my second in January 2014.  They were very effective in clearing the liver of the tumour burden, which allowed me to start off a course of Ipilimumab and, subsequently, Pembrolizumab.  As all the new immuno drugs seem to be most effective when the tumour burden is low, Delcath was instrumental in not only addressing the immediate threat but in providing the drugs with an opportunity to provide a more enduring benefit.

Following a potentially suspect presentation in early 2015 I had two further procedures in April and July 2015, to prevent any progression.

For such a major procedure that offers such invaluable potential to prolong life, the Delcath procedure allows for a surprisingly fast recovery and an excellent quality of life between procedures.  The first couple of days immediately following the procedure can involve some discomfort but it is very manageable and within a week you can expect to be back to living a normal life.

Finally I must say that, if you are considering having a Delcath procedure, you can do no better than choose Southampton Spire, for your care.  The doctors and nursing staff are consistently outstanding.  The surgeons, oncologists, interventional radiologists and the critical care consultants work seamlessly as a team to design a bespoke treatment plan to suit an individual patient’s condition.  All hospitals seem to promise this approach but I have never seen it delivered anything like as effectively as by the team in Southampton.  As with all complex procedures, experience counts and the team at Southampton have more experience of Delcath than anywhere else.  The doctors are all experts in their field and they are also extremely approachable and patient in briefing patients on what they need to know, answering questions etc.  The nursing staff and physiotherapists are exceptionally friendly, attentive and extremely professional.  If and when I need any future Delcath procedures I wouldn’t consider having them anywhere else."  - Interventional Oncology Patient, Southampton

"I find it extraordinary – if not outrageous - that so few ocular melanoma patients know about Southampton.  Given my experience as a patient, I think every single ocular melanoma patient should be referred to Southampton or at least made aware of the techniques, treatments, expertise and sheer experience of the Southampton team compared to any other centre in the UK, and, in the case of Dr. Brian Stedman’s groundbreaking Delcath chemosaturation treatment; in the world.

From my extensive experience as an ocular melanoma patient – and trust me, I’ve done my research - there simply is no other centre with a cross disciplinary team like Southampton’s.  Each member is pioneering in his own field – from Dr. Arjun Takhar’s resection techniques, Professor Ottensmeier and Dr. Matthew Wheater’s ground-breaking oncology research into experimental medicine making them world experts in ocular melanoma, to Dr. Brian Stedman’s Delcath chemosaturation procedure.  Working closely together and thanks to their weekly Ocular Melanoma MDT meetings,  they offer their combined expertise and options to patients; carefully creating treatment pathways tailor made to fit each case.

What is even more incredible is how kind and caring and considerate all these medical stars are.  Despite frantically busy timetables, they have sat down with me and talked everything through, slowly, in as much depth as I wished and always with complete honesty.

Of particular note, of course, is the chemosaturation technique which has been pioneered by the brilliant Dr. Brian Stedman, who really should be awarded some kind of medical or state honours.  I cannot thank Brian enough.  I was told by London’s Royal Marsden Hospital that I would be dead by now.  But thanks to Brian’s insistence that he could do something to help and then to his flawless chemosaturation operations,  here I am writing this review after a lovely summer holiday, swimming for hours every day, and happily spending time with my family.   All this is thanks to Brian and the two amazingly diligent and experienced anaesthetists with whom he works, Dr. Jon Fennel and Dr. Sanjev Gupta.

So to me it is an outrage that not every single ocular melanoma patient is referred or at least made aware of the expertise and treatments that the Southampton team offer.  I am alive because of Southampton; not even in pain.   Sadly, with metastatic ocular melanoma, it is not a question of if, but when.  Southampton help me to fight with every atom of my body, to make that ‘When’ a far-off consideration. How can I express gratitude for that?" - Interventional Oncology Patient, Southampton

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