Dr Neil Bayman, Christie consultant
Dr Neil Bayman is a consultant clinical oncologist at The Christie and is supporting The Christie at Macclesfield project. He runs a weekly clinic in Macclesfield where he sees patients with lung cancer. He talks about how the journey to The Christie in Manchester can be take its toll on patients travelling from East Cheshire - and how The Christie at Macclesfield will help with this.
"Lung cancer remains the most common cancer killer in the UK, partly because lung cancers are often diagnosed after the cancer has spread. Lung cancer can sometimes be difficult to spot as the symptoms of lung cancers can mimic the chest symptoms caused by smoking, and people who smoke are much more likely to develop lung cancer.
"People must see their GP if they experience symptoms such as feeling more short of breath, a persistent cough, coughing blood, or unexplained weight loss.
"A lung cancer caught early is more likely to be cured, when it can be treated with surgery or radiotherapy.
"When discussing the possible side effects of radiotherapy, it’s easy to forget that often one of the biggest concerns patients have is how they will get to Manchester for treatment every day at The Christie.
"The radiotherapy is given every weekday, Monday to Friday, for four weeks or even six and a half weeks in some cases. It means that when I speak to lung cancer patients in my clinics I’m asking the patient, and usually, a family member or friend, to join the queue of traffic into the city, and make a round trip of at least 30 miles every day, clocking-up around 1,000 miles through the course of their treatment.
"That’s the same distance as asking a patient recently diagnosed with cancer to drive to Prague. It’s no surprise that patients often describe fatigue as one of the more difficult side effects of radiotherapy.
"The average patient in East Cheshire currently spends over 90 hours travelling to The Christie during a six week course of treatment.
"Making the trauma of that travel easier to cope with is just one of the reasons why I’m so pleased that from late 2021 The Christie at Macclesfield will mean that the patients I see in Macclesfield with lung cancer who require radiotherapy will be able to receive their treatment locally.
"Easy access to treatment, particularly cancer treatment, is important. A recent inquiry carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy showed that people who live far away from a radiotherapy centre were less likely to receive radiotherapy to treat their cancer.
"The radiotherapy facility at The Christie at Macclesfield will include the very latest equipment and technology. Patients will be able to receive advanced lung cancer radiotherapy such as stereotactic radiotherapy, also known as SABR. This is a highly targeted, ultra-precise way of treating lung cancers that have been caught early with high doses of radiation, and is a very effective alternative for patients with potentially curable lung cancers who are unable to have surgery.
"Currently, the only places in the North West that can deliver SABR are The Christie in Manchester and Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Merseyside. The Christie at Macclesfield will give patients with early stage lung cancer the ability to receive this life-saving treatment locally.
"People diagnosed with more advanced lung cancers will also benefit from the new centre. Often these patients will need both radiotherapy and chemotherapy in parallel, so the ability to have these in the same centre in Macclesfield will make a huge difference.
"Although lung cancer awareness month is a chilling reminder that this disease remains deadly, there have been some major advances in treatments recently, with many patients receiving anti-cancer drugs such as immunotherapy.
"Immunotherapy works by making cancers visible to the body’s immune system. Usually, cancer cells can hide from the immune system, sometimes described as having a Harry Potter invisibility cloak. Immunotherapy removes this invisibility cloak so that the immune system can attack and kill the cancer cells.
"Whilst immunotherapy can be a very effective treatment for some patients with lung cancer, it requires more frequent visits to hospital for treatment than traditional chemotherapy. Currently, some patients receive these treatments in Macclesfield, but many still come to The Christie in Manchester. The Christie at Macclesfield will include a modern chemotherapy and immunotherapy unit able to offer more patients the latest anti-cancer drug treatments locally.
"There is no doubt that this new centre in Macclesfield will make a huge difference to lung cancer patients and I have already spoken to many patients who are passionate advocates for our plans."
- Dr Neil Bayman