Sheffield Teaching Hospitals foundation trust is saving time, money and lives with its early cancer reception service

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals foundation trust is saving time, money and lives with its early cancer reception service


Many patients with suspected early-stage bowel cancer face major surgery, intensive care and considerable lifestyle changes.

Now, thanks to clinical advances, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals foundation trust's early cancer reception service offers diagnosis and treatment on a day list.

New technology provides images almost identical to those produced in the laboratory, alongside an effective method for the excision or resection of growths.

A recently appointed consultant endoscopist at the trust's Royal Hallamshire Hospital performs the investigations and interventions. These changes have prompted considerable improvements in
early detection and five-year survival rates for gastrointestinal cancer.

Consultant endoscopist Dr Paul Hurlstone and his team won last year's BUPA Foundation research award for best emerging medical researcher for their work on the development of cancers in people who had already had conventional examinations. Papers published by Dr Hurlstone et al in Gut examined the best means of staging - grading the level of spread - lesions and the cure rate achieved at two years post-microendoscopic surgery. Three years after the publication of this second paper, the cure rate among the 58-patient cohort remains constant, giving an equivalent five-year rate of 96 per cent.

Another study for publication in the British Journal of Surgerylooks at how many times the centre has done a resection without the need for a later procedure to remove further cancerous spread. Under these parameters, the new technique is attaining a cure rate of 71 per cent.

'Not everybody is a suitable candidate,' says Dr Hurlstone, 'but for those who are, it offers a safe and cost-effective alternative to surgery. I dedicate two lists to it a week and, while it is time-consuming and there is some displacement of work, the net gain for the trust is very good. It saves surgeons' and theatre time, cuts down on intensive treatment unit bed occupancy and removes the risks of post-operative complications.'