A Royal Surrey team caring for patients with rectal cancer marked a milestone moment as they used the Papillon radiotherapy machine to treat their 400th patient, Mr Hardie Joss.
Named after a French professor of medicine who first used the treatment in the 1940s, the Papillon machine delivers targeted internal radiotherapy using low energy x-rays close to the tumour. It has the advantage of pinpointing the treatment area very precisely, limiting any potential damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
The team’s patient, Mr Hardie Joss, age 67, said: “I’m told that I am the 400th patient. I have found the treatment here to be very professional and the staff very knowledgeable, and I am delighted to have completed the course today.”
Dr Alex Stewart, lead clinician for the project added: “Our original Papillon machine was bought with the support of the BRIGHT and GUTS charities in 2013. We started using it in 2014 and are thrilled to have just treated our 400th patient.
“We are one of four centres in the UK to use this machine to treat rectal cancer and the only one in the South of England, so we have a wide geographic referral area reaching as far as South Wales, Jersey and even the Bahamas. Last year an international randomised trial showed that Papillon helps more patients avoid major rectal surgery than external radiotherapy alone, so our referrals have doubled in the past year.
“With the support of our local charities and the computer science department at Royal Surrey, we have developed an international database for all centres using Papillon and have published two research papers describing the efficacy of the Papillon technique. We are also running a clinical trial called the CITRuS study in multiple centres across the country. It uses computers to allow patients to report the effects of cancer therapy, including Papillon treatment, on their life after treatment finishes, and to develop ways in which we can improve their quality of life."