Specialists at Northampton General Hospital (NGH) have launched a new treatment for patients with common skin cancers to aid faster recovery without surgery.
Skin Brachytherapy is a highly targeted radiotherapy technique used to treat certain types of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers.
The treatment spares surrounding healthy tissue from radiation so can be used instead of surgery and lead to a more rapid and complete recovery with good cosmetic outcomes.
Although practiced in Northampton, the new treatment will be available to suitable patients from across the whole of Northamptonshire. NGH will be one of only 10 hospitals in the UK offering the treatment.
NGH clinical oncologist, Dr Deepali Vaidya, and lead radiotherapist, Bansi Mulji-Shah, travelled to Brussels to receive specific training to learn the treatment procedure and techniques.
Audrey Barlow, 87, was one of the first patients to have the treatment.
Mrs Barlow said: “I noticed a scabby little wound on the outside of my left ankle and my GP referred me to hospital.
“They told me I had a basal cell cancer and discussed the new treatment with me.
“I was very happy to have it and do something to help other people to be supported with this new treatment.
“When I came in for my treatments they treated me like royalty. It wasn’t painful. I just felt a little throbbing.
“They played some music for me, Dean Martin, while it was going on so I just listened to that until it was over.
“At first it scabbed over quite a lot but now it has completely healed and I have hardly even got a scar.”
Mrs Barlow had six sessions of treatments between June 23 to July 9, this year, and each one took only a few minutes to deliver.
Dr Deepali Vaidya added: “Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer and affect about 1,000 people in Northamptonshire each year.
“They are highly curable - and less dangerous than melanoma - but can be disfiguring and costly to treat and using surgery or other forms of more extensive radiation therapy.
“The new treatment can also be a better treatment option for elderly patients, who don’t heal as well, or patients with cancers on the nose, ear or eyelid where multiple surgeries whilst achieving comparable treatment outcomes.”
The hospital is now working on expanding the service using 3D printers to create custom fitted applicators for more complex and advanced skin cancers by raising awareness of this treatment option to both local healthcare professionals and patients of its availability.