SCIENTISTS in Southampton are testing an innovative new method to work out the idea dose of chemotherapy for cancer patients.

Dr Ellen Copson of the University of Southampton has been awarded a £20,000 grant by research charity Breast Cancer Campaign to try out a simpler method of measuring body composition to find out the optimum treatment levels for breast cancer patients.

Called segmental bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy, or sBIS, it is a machine resembling a weighing scale which estimates body fat using electrical currents that run through a person’s body.

Now Dr Copson, also an oncology consultant at Southampton General Hospital, is appealing for 35 breast cancer sufferers to come forward to take part in a pilot study of the new method.

Currently, chemotherapy doses are calculated based upon a patient’s weight and height, but this may not be accurate in patients who are very obese or underweight.

The effectiveness of chemotherapy, and what side effects are experienced, may depend on the fat and muscle content of a person’s body.

Almost 1,200 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Hampshire each year and 250 die, many because they have become resistant to chemotherapy.

Katherine Woods, research communications manager at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: “This research will help doctors in the future decide the most appropriate dose of chemotherapy for individual patients, improving their chances of survival, but also minimising side effects.

“Dr Copson’s research could bring us one step closer to our goal that by 2025 improved and more personalised treatments for breast cancer will reduce mortality from breast cancer by half.”