'State-of-the-art' equipment at QA Hospital to benefit liver cancer patients

PATIENTS with liver cancer in Portsmouth now have access to new ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment at Queen Alexandra Hospital, which is used to destroy cancerous cells.

By Fiona Callingham
Monday, 7th June 2021, 3:16 pm

A microwave ablation service has been set up within the hospital’s diagnostic imaging department to tackle liver tumours.

As part of the procedure needles are placed into a specific part of the liver using either CT or ultrasound. It works by disturbing the water molecules to produce heat which destroys cancer cells.

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The microwave ablation equipment at QA Hospital. From left to right, Hannah Califano (Sister), Renee Coxen (Senior Sister), Dr Nancy Boniface (Consultant Anaesthetist), Dr Ball (Consultant Interventional Radiologist), Ben Ridge (CT Cardiac Lead), Steve Adey (Senior Operating Department Practitioner) and Ruth Burghard (Supply Chain Coordinator). Picture: PHU

It is thought initially around 30 patients a year will benefit from the service, for which they previously had to travel to Southampton or London.

Dr Christopher Ball, consultant radiologist at QA, said: ‘We are delighted to be introducing this new service, not only to improve the experience of our patients, but to also benefit the professional development of the diagnostic imaging team by learning new skills.

‘We recently treated our first patient using this state-of-the-art equipment which was a success. They are now at home recovering well.’

QA Hospital usually sees between 20 to 30 patients every year diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma - a cancer that arises from within the liver.

The microwave ablation equipment at QA Hospital. Picture: PHU

It comes as recent figures show rates around alcohol abuse and obesity, that are both linked to liver cancer, in the city are high.

Consultant hepatologist, Richard Aspinall, added: ‘Liver cancer can be a complication of any type of cirrhosis. The most common causes of liver disease in Portsmouth are alcohol misuse, obesity and a range of other conditions.

‘Having this procedure available will help us tackle the consequences of liver problems in our local population. For some people with small liver tumours, this procedure can be curative.’

According to data from NHS Digital there were 3,150 people admitted with a primary or secondary diagnosis of obesity in Portsmouth in 2019, up from 2,775 in 2018.

And heavy drinking put 2,900 people from Portsmouth and the surrounding towns into hospital in 2019 – almost 10 admissions every day - while the Addiction Recovery Centre in Cosham said it saw calls regarding alcohol abuse increase by more than 100 per cent in the final months of 2020.

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