Pelvic Radiation Disease Project secures funding to continue

Rosemere Funds £283k Pelvic Radiation Disease Project

A clinic to treat former cancer patients left with side-effects from radiotherapy treatment, that we initially funded with £283,521 of our charitable funds, has received such positive feedback from those it has helped its future is now secure with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTR) agreeing to take over its running costs.

The radiographer-led Late Effects Pelvic Radiation Disease (PRD) Clinic at the regional Rosemere Cancer Centre opened up in April 2021, following our grant.

Since then, it has treated close to 100 patients, who had been left with rectal bleeding, bladder and faecal urgency and incontinence, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, constipation and female sexual dysfunction as side-effects of radiotherapy treatment for prostate, bladder, rectum, anus and gynaecological cancers.

Typically, these patients had between three and six clinic appointments at which they were, depending on need and response, prescribed medication and given self-help management advice.

Among the data collated to support the continuation of the clinic were patient testimonies. These included the endorsement of a bladder cancer patient, who underwent radiotherapy in 2013 and who credited the clinic team with having been “game-changing”.

A retired teacher, who was treated with internal and external radiotherapy for cervical cancer at Manchester’s The Christie Hospital in 1989, said: “There was no help given with the debilitating side-effects of radiotherapy, including bowel and bladder problems, which greatly affected my teaching career, until 34 years later after a gynaecology appointment when I was referred to the late effects service.”

She added: “I cannot praise those who run this service enough. Following a trial with different medication, my symptoms are much improved and I feel more confident leaving home knowing I am not going to spend considerable amounts of time looking for toilets. I will be 70 this year and look forward to my life ahead with a new optimism.”

A third patient treated for anal cancer in 2022 described the clinic as a “service that cancer patients need for their wellbeing.”

The clinic is managed by advanced specialist practitioner in the late effects of PRD Rachel Rigby. Rachel explained: “Radiotherapy is a very effective cancer treatment that is becoming kinder. It is used as a curative treatment and thanks to new ultra precise delivery methods, damage to healthy cells that surround the cancer site is increasingly minimised.

However, pelvic radiotherapy can leave some patients with side–effects that can significantly impact on their quality of life. Often, they put up with them as a trade-off for being cancer-free but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Rachel added: “We have demonstrated a need for a late effects PRD service and how accessing it has been life changing for patients, most of which have had to manage chronic symptoms for many years. If you or someone you know has been left with life impacting side-effects following pelvic radiotherapy, it’s never too late to ask for a clinic referral.”

Our head of Charities Dan Hill said: “We are incredibly proud that our PRD clinic pilot project has now become part of cancer services at Rosemere Cancer Centre.

“The clinic team has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of and provide treatment for PRD, a condition that causes much suffering but is often hidden by patients themselves, who are just grateful to have been cured of their cancer. The clinic is pioneering. By acknowledging PRD as a very real issue, we are confident patient referrals will continue to grow as word spreads. We wish everyone connected with the clinic the very best for the future.”

We’d like to give a huge thank you to all who helped raise the money to make our initial funding of this vital project possible!

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