IT’S a marvellous medical milestone – and to mark 1,000 patients being treated for a rare and aggressive cancer at Basingstoke hospital, consultants, nurses, former patients and the man who created a revolutionary treatment met up at a special event.

For the patients, some of whom travelled from Europe to attend the gathering, it was a chance to meet up with others who have survived Pseudomyxoma Peritonei, PMP, and for staff, it was a chance to share knowledge and meet Dr Paul Sugarbaker – the man behind the Sugarbaker operating technique.

PMP, also known as ‘jelly belly’ because of the way the tumour and mucus forms in the abdomen, affects only around one in a million people.

David Mason, from Bristol, has twice had the Sugarbaker treatment – known as the Mother Of All Surgeries – at Basingstoke hospital.

The operation involves removing the complete tumour, stripping the lining of the abdomen and operating on the small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, gall bladder, spleen omentum, and in women, the ovaries and uterus.

The abdomen is then washed out with hot chemotherapy liquid for one hour. The average time of the operation is more than 10 hours.

Mr Mason, 38, said: “The treatment I had was fantastic. Today was a great opportunity for people who talk online to meet in person. It has been really interesting.”

Myrna Ripley, 71, from Andover, was also among those who travelled to the conference and patient forum, held in The Ark Conference Centre, in the grounds of Basingstoke hospital. She underwent the operation in November 2011.

She said: “It’s only today, listening to the talks and meeting with everyone, that it has sort of come home how serious it really is. The service I had here at the hospital was wonderful.”

Dr Sugarbaker said: “I am privileged to be invited at such a monumental moment in time when 1,000 patients have been successfully treated for a rare disease for which previously only palliative options were available.”

Mr Brendan Moran, who developed the Pseudomyxoma Peritonei service in Basingstoke, which is now led by Tom Cecil, said: “We are immensely proud to be one of only two national centres for the treatment of pseudomyxoma, to have treated hundreds of patients, and to welcome Dr Sugarbaker.

“Having a world-class centre in a local hospital means that the local communities of Hampshire also benefit greatly from the expertise of our surgeons during the operations they carry out in the colorectal unit, and from the knowledge and expertise we have built up of patient care and recovery.”