'Magic bullet' treatment comes to Birmingham

  A ‘magic bullet’ treatment which transformed the life of a mother with a rare form of cancer is now available in the Midlands. Previously patients wanting to receive Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT) would have had to travel to London. But, thanks to a grant from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity, the pioneering treatment is now on offer in Birmingham. Patient Cath Wood knows only too well the benefits of PRRT. She was diagnosed with a neuro-endocrine tumour (NET) on her daughter Hannah’s third birthday three years ago. The news was a massive shock to the 48-year-old mum who felt fit and healthy apart from a small lump which had prompted her to visit her GP. As the tumour grew, Cath, from Meifod in Mid Wales, began to experience facial flushing, diarrhoea and lymphoedema (swelling). Her legs were so swollen she couldn’t fit into her clothes or shoes and the diarrhoea meant leaving the house became difficult. Cath said: “My body was changing beyond all recognition. I had an extra two-and-a-half stones of fluid in my body which made moving around uncomfortable and I was exhausted all the time.” Cath was referred by Shrewsbury Hospital to Consultant Hepatologist Dr Tahir Shah at the QE Hospital. He realised that Cath might benefit from PRRT- described as a ‘magic bullet’ treatment because of the way it targets cancer cells and avoids healthy tissue. At the time, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital didn’t offer PRRT so Mr Shah referred Cath to the Royal Free Hospital in London. She finished her treatment in June 2011 and it proved to be very successful in shrinking the cancer and eradicating the symptoms. But Cath said it would have been great to have the treatment without the stress of travelling to London. “PRRT has made a massive difference to my life – I really do have my normal life back,” said Cath, who is now on monthly injections to keep the cancer at bay. “It’s great that patients in the Midlands and beyond will be able to access PRRT without having the stress and expense of travelling to the capital.” Earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity gave Dr Shah a grant to help him set up the therapy in Birmingham for the first time. The money has been used to bring UK’s leading PRRT expert, Dr Muriel Buxton-Thomas, to Birmingham. Dr Tahir Shah added: “Having PRRT available in Birmingham is a fantastic development for the Midlands. There are approximately 1,000 neuroendocrine tumour patients in the area many of whom will benefit from having this treatment closer to home. “Queen Elizabeth Hospital already offers some of the most advanced treatments for rare neuroendocrine tumours and it’s great that we are now able to offer PRRT as well. This will help patients like Cath return to as normal a life as possible.” Cath’s friends are holding a masked ball at the Town Hall in Welshpool on Saturday, September 28, to raise funds for research into NETs. Tickets are £25 and include food, drink and music from a live band. Please contact Helen Muir for tickets on 07757 482 707.

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