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New technology for cancer patients

New technology for cancer patients

Thursday 23 June 2022

New technology for cancer patients

Thursday 23 June 2022


New technology in the Bailiwick is diagnosing and treating cancer patients who would previously have required treatment in the UK.

In the past nine months, ten melanoma patients and ten breast cancer patients have benefitted from the new technology, which has also saved the island around £75,000 by avoiding the need for treatment in the UK.

Dr Julie Hunt, a GP in Alderney, was the first patient to benefit from the technology locally.

"Overall, I had a really positive experience with my treatment. Of course, I never expected to be diagnosed with a malignant melanoma and it was an incredibly unsettling and stressful time, but being able to receive treatment in the island made the whole process that bit easier," said Dr Hunt.

"It meant no added stress of packing [or], at the time, getting covid tested before flying [or] wearing a mask. You don’t have the unfamiliarity of doctors or your surroundings and you have your support system around you still."

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Pictured: Some cancer patients who would previously have needed to travel to the UK are now being diagnosed and treated in the Bailiwick.

'Magtrace' and 'Magseed' are new types of non-radioactive lymphatic tracers developed for use in lymph node biopsies. This is a procedure in which a lymph node is identified, removed and examined to see whether cancer cells are present or if they have spread beyond a primary tumour into the lymphatic system.

Until recently, any patient with deep melanoma – or skin cancer – had to be treated in Southampton, but the new technology is allowing these patients to be treated locally. It is also providing a back-up for breast cancer treatment, for which radioactive tracers have been used in the Bailiwick previously. 

The new technology is a joint investment by the Medical Specialist Group and the States' Committee for Health & Social Care.

Deputy Al Brouard

Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard's Committee for Health & Social Care has jointly invested in the new technology with the Medical Specialist Group.

Consultant surgeon Thomas Fysh said it was benefitting patients in numerous ways.

"Magtrace and Magseed are really sophisticated technologies that have transformed what we can offer patients on-island," said Mr Fysh.

"Both can be injected prior to surgery while the patient is anesthetised, so no pain is experienced from the injection. The Magtrace can be injected a week before surgery and Magseed months before, allowing for greater flexibility around when the surgery takes place.

"Neither technology requires the use of radiology, which patients prefer and means that the surgery doesn’t require the nuclear medicine team’s involvement.

"Having fewer specialists involved means less drain on resources and fewer cancellations. This has been particularly relevant throughout covid."

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Pictured: Consultant surgeon Thomas Fysh.

Pioneering patient Dr Hunt said she was "very thankful…for the brilliant care" she received.

"Fortunately, my results showed the cancer had not spread and having that peace of mind was hugely beneficial to me," she said.

"Mr Fysh saw me quickly, the treatment was extremely efficient, and my experience of the MSG was just amazing, from the reception team right through to surgery."

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Pictured: The partnership between the Committee for Health & Social Care and the Medical Specialist Group has already reduced spending on treatment in the UK by £75,000.

Dr Gary Yarwood, Chairman of the MSG, said there was a clear case for investing in the new technology.

"We are always focused on developing our services on the island and continually seeking out new or improved ways to treat our patients," said Dr Yarwood.

"After several months of negotiating and testing – co-ordinated between Mr Fysh, the Breast Unit, the Medical Director and [Committee for Health & Social Care] management – we came to an agreement with our supplier.

"It's a great example of the partnership of purpose in action and working."

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