Kirkby Lonsdale GP undergoes surgery-sparing op thanks to charity-funded imaging system

A GP from Kirkby Lonsdale diagnosed with an aggressive form of endometrial cancer (a type of womb cancer) said she was 'very pleased' to discover that her treatment would include an extensive surgery-sparing technique that is currently unique in the north west to the gynaecological oncology team based at Rosemere Cancer Centre.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 3:45 pm
Dr Shehzana Fraser, who underwent a surgery-sparing operation currently only being undertaken in the north west at Rosemere Cancer Centre after charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation funded a Pinpoint imaging system for its consultants.
Dr Shehzana Fraser, who underwent a surgery-sparing operation currently only being undertaken in the north west at Rosemere Cancer Centre after charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation funded a Pinpoint imaging system for its consultants.

The centre at the Royal Preston Hospital is the regional specialist cancer treatment centre for the whole of South Cumbria and Lancashire.

Five weeks ago, Dr Shehzana Fraser, 56, who worked alongside husband Dr Iain Fraser for Morecambe’s Bay Medical Group until 2018, underwent a hysterectomy there.

Her surgery, which was performed by consultant gynaecological oncologist Mr Georgios Angelopoulos, was keyhole surgery that also involved the use of a Pinpoint High Definition Fluorescent Imaging System.

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The system was bought for the centre at a cost £110,000 by charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation, for sentinel lymph node detection and mapping.

Lymph nodes are little collections of tissue that contain immune cells and work to filter harmful substances, including infections, from the body. Sentinel lymph nodes are the first lymph nodes to which cancer cells are likely to spread.

The imaging system is made up of a laparoscope, which is a thin tube. At its end, it has a powerful infra red camera. The camera enabled Mr Angelopoulos to find the sentinel lymph nodes in the pelvic sidewall and have just these examined to check if Dr Fraser’s cancer had spread rather than excising (removing) some further or even all nodes.

Dr Fraser, who has a 19-year-old daughter and 10 years ago underwent surgery for breast cancer, said: “I was delighted to be offered the Pinpoint sentinel node mapping procedure and then very relieved that it could be carried out successfully during my surgery.

"I was aware that this wasn’t widely available despite the fact that it offers the chance of a less extensive operation with fewer side effects. I was able to leave hospital the next day and although I had been given pain relief I was fortunate to only need paracetamol.

“Both as a doctor and as a patient, I feel the unequal availability of the procedure depending on where you live is a great pity and the fact remains that the NHS does rely on the contribution of charitable funding for some of these innovative treatments.”

Mr Angelopoulos said: “Having the Pinpoint imaging system enables less radical surgery, which means quicker surgery and therefore, shorter anaesthetic, less blood loss, less pain, reduced hospital stay, a faster recovery and less risk of complications such as lymphoedema, which is swelling to the pelvis and legs.

“On average, we are looking at a reduction in operating time of one to one and half hours depending on the surgical difficulty, hospital stay reduced to overnight and risk of lymphoedema reduced to 0 per cent from a risk of up to 4-5 per cent in patients undergoing complete lymph node excision.

“We are grateful to Rosemere Cancer Foundation for funding the Pinpoint system, enabling us to be the first and currently only gynaecological cancer centre in the North West to identify and map sentinel nodes in this way.”

Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients from throughout south Cumbria and Lancashire being treated not only at Rosemere Cancer Centre but also at another eight local hospital cancer units across the two counties, including those at Westmorland General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

The charity funds cutting edge equipment, research, training and other cancer services and therapies that the NHS is unable to afford. For further information on its work, including how to make a donation, visit {www.rosemere.org.uk|www.rosemere.org.uk