A pioneering breast cancer treatment that will drastically cut the number of trips to hospital for patients is to be offered for the first time in Wales.
The Spire Yale Hospital in Wrexham is the first in Wales to offer the ground-breaking radiotherapy treatment which takes just 10 minutes using a small balloon device.
Known as Single Dose Intra-Operative Radiotherapy (SD-IORT), the treatment is delivered once only, in the operating theatre immediately after surgery.
The balloon is inflated inside the breast to deliver a highly targeted dose of radiotherapy directly to the affected area, while the patient is still under anaesthetic.
It means eligible patients will no longer need to return to hospital for radiotherapy, which typically involves 15 sessions over three weeks following surgery.
Only available in a few UK hospitals, the treatment being offered to women over the age of 60 with early stage breast cancer, who need a lumpectomy to remove cancerous tissue.
Dr Abou Samra, consultant breast cancer surgeon at Spire Yale and an expert in the field, said the SD-IORT device would revolutionise breast cancer treatment.
He said: “This is a new and pioneering way to deliver radiotherapy. The balloon is inflated to fill the cavity following surgery, while the patient is still under anaesthetic.
“Depending on the size the tumour was, it could be the size of a marble, or a tennis ball. Inside the balloon is a generator which delivers the radiotherapy. It is delivered once, and only extends the time under anaesthetic by a short amount of time.”
“For a lot of people in North Wales they have to travel three or four hours to hospital for their radiotherapy dose, every day for fifteen treatments. For those people this new treatment will mean a huge improvement in their quality of life following surgery, and so it’s going to be a preference for many of our patients.”
Mr Samra said: “It’s going to revolutionise the way we treat breast cancer.
“It’s a lot more convenient for the patients, its going to save them all the hassle of travelling, they will have fewer hospital visits, and it will be less stress for them, and the treatment is just as effective as other radiotherapies.”
He added: “In the whole of North Wales around 700 patients are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
“Around two-thirds of them would end up having radiotherapy, and anyone over the age of 60 would be eligible for this, so it could be of benefit to around 250 women a year, if they were a Spire patient.”
Hospital Director Sue Jones said: “The team at Spire Yale is delighted to be the first hospital in Wales to offer the SD IORT treatment.
“This service is another example how we are committed to providing our patients with the highest standards of available treatments.”