A former breast cancer patient who was later diagnosed with a secondary primary cancer in her bowel that had spread to her liver, lungs, peritoneum (the layer of tissue that lines the abdomen) and ovaries is celebrating being cancer free, thanks to pioneering surgery at The Christie in Manchester – one of only two hospitals in the country to carry out this complex surgery.
Marianne Young, 45 from Norwich, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in late 2013, two years after completing treatment for breast cancer. Marianne underwent surgery at The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to have the cancer removed from her bowel, however the cancer later returned and spread to her liver and lungs.
After being diagnosed with secondary bowel cancer in early 2014 (a bowel cancer that has spread to another part of the body), Marianne then underwent a grueling treatment regime which involved having a section of her lungs and 70% of her liver and gallbladder removed, as well undergoing 14 rounds of chemotherapy followed by microwave ablation, a technique using heat to destroy the tumours in both of her lungs.
Unfortunately in 2016, a scan and blood test confirmed that the cancer had returned once more and Marianne’s oncologist referred her to a specialist surgical team at The Christie.
Marianne was referred to the leading European cancer centre, as it is one of only two NHS hospitals in the UK to offer cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, commonly known as HIPEC. This pioneering complex surgery is where a team of surgeons work to remove all visible tumours in the abdominal cavity which can take up to 14 hours, before a heated chemotherapy treatment is delivered directly to the abdomen.
Marianne said: “I was elated when I found out that I was compatible for this specialist treatment. I was worried that I wouldn’t be a suitable candidate as I had undergone so much surgery before.
“I am so grateful that I was referred to this team at The Christie which could deal with such a complex cancer diagnosis. I felt extremely confident that I was in the safest hands.”
Mr Aziz, consultant colorectal and laparoscopic surgeon at The Christie, who led the team carrying out the procedure, said: “Marianne’s cancer was so advanced that this treatment was the only curative option for her, with the alternative being non curative chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was her best chance of survival.”
“First of all we carry out a procedure to remove as much of the tumour as possible,” continued Mr Aziz. “We also remove some of the abdominal sites that the cancer could latch onto, and this is called cytoreduction.
“Then we administer heated chemotherapy directly into the abdomen. This involves pumping fluid containing the chemotherapy at 41.5 degrees Celsius for up to 90 minutes. The combination of the drug, the heat and the physical circulation and filtration of the fluid aims to kill off any remaining unseen cancerous cells.
“We’ve been developing this technique at The Christie for 12 years and are one of only two centres in the UK to carry out this complex procedure.”
The impact of being treated at The Christie has been substantial; it has given me the chance of being cancer free for longer and the ability to have a normal life. In fact I’m really hoping it will give me the chance of many years of life.
The Christie was the first hospital in the north west to use robotic surgery and it is now a centre of excellence for training other surgeons in robotic surgery. Operations at The Christie are undertaken by specialists working in multidisciplinary surgical teams of a type not found elsewhere. This multidisciplinary approach means that operations involving the bowel, uterus, bladder etc. can be undertaken at the same time. The specialist cancer centre was awarded one of only two, national Movember Prostate Centre of excellence awards for surgery. For further information, please visit www.christie.nhs.uk