SOUTHAMPTON cancer patients are being offered a UK-first radiotherapy technique as part of a new clinical trial.

Those undergoing surgery at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) for rectal cancer that has spread into the pelvis will be invited to join the pioneering ELECTRA trial.

It aims to see whether precision radiotherapy can improve patients' lives.

Intraoperative electron beam radiotherapy (IOERT) is delivered directly to the cancer site during surgery to try and ensure no cancer cells are left behind.

UHS currently has the only IOERT machine in the UK, funded by the PLANETS cancer charity which is supporting the new trial.

The trial is being run by the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit and is led by Alex Mirnezami, Professor of surgical oncology and consultant colorectal surgeon.

“Advanced and recurrent Rectal cancers in the pelvis can be very difficult to treat,” Prof Mirnezami said.

“Standard treatment involves chemotherapy and radiotherapy, followed by an operation to remove the cancer.

"But if the cancer cells are at the edge of the removed tissue, there is a high chance of leaving cancer cells behind which can regrow into a new tumour and cause the patient to relapse.”

Read more: Cancer survivor 'hopeful' on Southampton life-saving research

Georgie Parsons, 37, was treated with IOERT in 2019 during surgery for a reoccurrence of bowel cancer.

Following surgery, Georgie completed a course of chemotherapy and is now coming up to the years post-surgery with no active cancer.

Georgie was previously a research nurse and now works for the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR).

She said: "I was, and still am, incredibly grateful to Professor Mirnezami, the whole team in Southampton, and PLANETS for the care that I received.

"I wanted to do something to say thank you and to help others who may be in a similar situation in the future.

"Being a patient representative for the trial was one way I could do that.

"I am proud to be part of research that may help cancer patients and that may help fund the machines’ use in the NHS. 

"I hope the trial provides the experts with more information about IOERT and leads to more developments in this field of cancer treatment."

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