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A groundbreaking new treatment that could save the lives of thousands of people suffering from bowel cancer, known as a 'chemo bath' is to be rolled out across England. The procedure is used while patients are still in the operating theatre. So far, 50% of patients with certain types of the disease have been cured.
The procedure was pioneered by The Christie Hospital in Manchester, and also made available at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospitals before being rolled out across England, benefiting around 300 patients a year.
The procedure works by surgeons removing cancerous tissue then filling the abdominal cavity with a heated chemotherapy solution. The pairing of the drug and the heat has proven to be effective at killing cancer cells and the treatment barely affects healthy cells, as it only penetrates a few millimetres.
Professor Sarah O'Dwyer, a consultant cancer surgeon, told Sky News the treatment can mean patients can feel more optimistic about recovering from the disease. She said: "It eliminates cancer cells we can't see with the naked eye."
Thanks to better diagnostics and treatments, earlier diagnoses and greater awareness of symptoms and risks, survival rates for most cancers are improving. Around half of people diagnosed with cancer in England and Wales survive their disease for 10 years or more, according to CRUK.
On the chemotherapy unit at the hospital in Manchester, Doug Sparrow, 70, said the drug he was on had shrunk or eliminated tumours that had spread to his lungs and liver. "I feel confident I will live longer," he said. "Although I have cancer I don't feel ill. It gives you hope for the future."
Survival rates vary between cancer types, ranging from 98% for testicular cancer to just 1 per cent for pancreatic cancer. Many of the most commonly diagnosed cancers have 10-year survival rates of 50 per cent. Estimates suggest 58 per cent of men and 61 per cent of women survive for five years after a diagnosis of bowel cancer.