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Finding out more about breast cancer treatment

By news editor, on 30 October 2012

By guest blogger Danielle Vincent, Communications Officer at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Las tnight members of the public were given the opportunity to learn more about the latest breast cancer research and treatments being pioneered by UCL and the Royal Free Hospital.

About 120 people attended a breast cancer public engagement event at the Royal Free to mark breast cancer awareness month.

Mo Keshtgar, consultant oncological surgeon at the Royal Free and reader in cancer surgery at UCL, started the event by giving an overview of the various innovative research projects taking place at the institutions. This includes research and clinical trials into a new way of diagnosing and treating breast cancer with a flash of light;  intra-operative radiotherapy; keyhole mastectomy; nipple endoscopy; photodynamic therapy; and new computer software to aid clinicians in decision making.

Other research projects which were presented examined the link between diet and lifestyle and breast cancer; the role of religion and spirituality in adjusting to the disease and new ways of communicating with patients.

Mr Keshtgar also talked about how the Royal Free and UCL have been pioneering in the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy, a minimally-invasive procedure used to identify whether cancer has spread to the lymph node; Sentinella, a portable gamma camera used during surgery to identify the lymph node; and electrochemotherapy, a treatment which uses electrical pulses to stimulate cancer cells making them porous and more receptive to cancer-killing drugs.

Visitors then got the chance to walk around a number of stalls offering more information on the various research projects and were able to see some of the latest technologies in action.

Mr Keshtgar said: “There are more than ten types of breast cancer, so we can not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach with treatment. It’s about providing individualised care through multi-modality treatments and empowering patients to participate in the decision making process.

“The main focus of our research is on providing non-invasive, holistic approaches to the management of breast cancer. Some of this research has already been integrated into clinical practice; some of it is about to be; and other projects are in their infancy.”

The event also provided an opportunity to officially launch a new breast cancer awareness badge which has been developed by Mr Keshtgar and his patient, Maree Butler. The badges are being sold to raise money for the Royal Free Charity’s breast cancer research fund.

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