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22 June 2007
A surgical service developed at Cardiff which could save thousands of breast cancer patients unnecessary surgery has been named Best National Health Innovation for 2007.
GeneSearch Breast Cancer Intra-operative Diagnosis, pioneered by breast surgeon Professor Robert Mansel and colleagues at the School of Medicine, introduces a molecular pathology technique into routine surgery, and also offers the prospect of significant savings on NHS operations.
The service has just been named a winner at the 2007 Medical Futures Innovation Awards which celebrate and reward original thinking in healthcare.
Previously, a lymph gland would be removed from a breast cancer patient’s armpit during surgery and sent to a laboratory to check if the disease had spread. If the result was positive, the patient would be recalled for a second operation to remove the remaining lymph glands. Professor Mansel’s team has developed a service which uses the latest DNA technology to allow testing of the lymph gland in theatre at the time of the first operation. Surgery on the armpit can take place there and then.
Breast cancer affects more than 37,000 women every year. The new technique could save up to a third of them from having a second operation. The Cardiff team now aims to promote the service across the NHS. Another technique pioneered by Professor Mansel, sentinel node biopsy, which removed the need for armpit surgery altogether for many women, is being introduced to every UK hospital offering breast cancer surgery.
The Medical Futures Innovation Awards are among the most prestigious in the healthcare industry. The panel of judges include heart and lung transplant pioneer Sir Magdi Yacoub, former GlaxoSmithKline Chairman Sir Richard Sykes and Lloyds TSB Chairman Sir Victor Blank.
Professor Mansel said: "This award is a recognition of the benefits of GeneSearch in offering faster diagnosis to breast cancer patients. We are now working to ensure the service is adopted across the UK, improving patient experiences and saving significant costs."
The award was presented at a high-profile ceremony in London hosted by Joanna Lumley and Rory Bremner.
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