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A pioneering cancer treatment which is currently only available at University Hospital Southampton is now subject to a public consultation that could see it rolled out nationally and funded by the NHS.

Intraoperative electron beam radiotherapy (IORT) is radiotherapy that is delivered during surgery using a revolutionary mobile device known as Mobetron.

It is an intensive form of targeted radiation for a wide variety of advanced cancers that are difficult to remove and treat, with it initially being used to treat patients with pancreatic, neuroendocrine, colorectal and bladder tumours.

It is currently funded by PLANETS Cancer Charity which primarily serves the needs of the patients across Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and West Sussex, but is increasingly involved in national and international initiatives.

Using Mobetron – which is one-eighth the size of a standard external beam machine – the radiation is given by high energy electron beams delivered with precision to a very specific location inside the body immediately after a cancer has been removed.

Over 200 patients in the UK have now been treated with the technology in Southampton since its introduction with impressive results, such as preliminary results for colorectal patients reported by the Video Journal of Oncology in 2018 and those for pancreatic cases reported in the British Journal of Surgery last year.

It is currently part of a national clinical trial for patients with advanced and recurrent colorectal cancer which are the most challenging tumours in the abdomen and pelvis.

In addition, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has launched a public consultation seeking views which could lead to it being recommended as a treatment option for patients on the NHS. The consultation closes on Wednesday, 4 January.

Alex Mirnezami (pictured), professor of surgical oncology and consultant colorectal surgeon and member of the PLANETS clinical team, has pioneered the use of IORT in Southampton and is leading the landmark clinical trial.

Alex MirnezamiHe said: “To date the results show that the addition of IORT using Mobetron in addition to cancer surgery is advantageous for the patients treated and our findings are being presented regularly at major international cancer conferences.

“It is a valuable treatment option for the most complex of cancers but, despite being the standard of care and recommended in North American and European guidelines, it is still only available within the NHS at University Hospital Southampton and that is thanks to PLANETS.

“Without PLANETS and all of the charity’s supporters we would never have got to this point and it would be shame if the UK were to lose out on this modality.

“Consequently, we are in danger of some extremely young patients with awful cancers missing out on this treatment option despite the results so far being exceptionally good.

“So it is really important people support us by participating in this consultation to ensure the best possible chance of it being made available to more patients across the NHS.”

Neil Pearce, a recently retired consultant surgeon specialising in pancreas, liver and neuroendocrine tumours and co-founder of PLANETS, said: “I said back in 2016 that the introduction of Mobetron and IORT was a landmark moment for the treatment of advanced cancer in Southampton and across the UK and the results to-date show that to be true – and we hope it’s impact will soon be even bigger.”

In addition to delivering Mobetron PLANETS, which helps patients with pancreatic, liver, abdominal (colorectal) and neuroendocrine cancer, has raised more than £1.9 million since its formation to patient support groups along with other innovative treatments and research.

Find out more and respond to the consultation, which closes on Wednesday, 4 January, at

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