Revolutionary cancer treatment halves recovery time in Queensland-first

The future is looking brighter for patients suffering from life-threatening cancer of the eye, thanks to a new treatment option proven to not only halve recovery time but save the patient’s eye, vision and life.

In a Queensland-first, a new radioactive disc (isotope) no bigger than a 10c piece is being pioneered at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane to treat a cancer inside the eye known as Choroidal Melanoma, with the added potential of treating other cancers of the eye as well as a wide range of tumours.

The disc is stitched onto a patient’s eye and left on the eye from as little as one day through to a week where the powerful treatment radiates the tumour ensuring the treatment is localised to the eye.

With little to no side effects, more efficient results and a quicker recovery time, this new treatment option is set to completely replace the traditional treatment method which uses iodine and has the potential to cause severe side effects for patients.

The new disc method is not only safer for the patient but has also proven to be much safer for the doctor and medical team as it can be treated in a standard clinical room, rather than a lead-lined room which is usually needed to combat any dangers from radiation when using iodine.

Seventy-six-year-old Beachmere local, Richard Droughton was the very first patient to receive the new treatment option, undergoing surgery in November this year at Mater, in the hopes of finally getting rid of his cancer for good.

Having experienced his first melanoma diagnosis nearly four and a half years ago, Richard’s fear of cancer rearing its ugly head again became a reality when he was told it had come back in July this year.

“Before my first diagnosis, my only symptom was a watery eye that slowly got more irritated and began to give me white flashes in my vision, so when we heard a cancer diagnosis, my wife and I just about hit the floor. They just aren’t the sort of symptoms that make you think you’ve got cancer,” Richard said.

“After being told the cancer had come back, I wanted to try something new and hopefully get rid of the cancer for good this time.”

Richard’s doctor, Dr Bill Glasson an ophthalmologist at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane said this new treatment method could have major benefit for a number of people.

“Eye melanoma affects approximately 7 – 8 people in every million each year and it can have a devastating, life-threatening affect on many of these patients,” Dr Glasson explained.

“At Mater we see a high number of patients with this type of melanoma from across Queensland, Northern New South Wales, and parts of the Northern Territory, and providing this option will truly revolutionise their treatment experience.”

“Not only is this option safer given the radiation from the disc does not extend to other parts of the body to any great extent, but patients can be immediately discharged from hospital after the removal of the disc and we are seeing longer lasting and more effective results, which is very promising.” 

Pictured: Dr Bill Glasson with his patient Richard Droughton and Richard's wife, Sue. 

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