Northern Centre for Cancer Care

NCCC in the News

There's always lots going on at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care. This page brings you the latest news you need to keep up-to-date

Surgeons develop pioneering technique to identify bone and soft tissue tumours

Surgeons in Newcastle have become the first in Europe to use a pioneering technique to help identify sarcomas during surgery.

Sarcomas are cancers affecting any part of the body, including the muscle, bone, tendons, blood vessels and fatty tissues. Most commonly they affect the arms, legs and trunk and they account for around 1% of all cancers.

Surgery to remove a bone or soft tissue tumour involves removing the tumour and some of the surrounding healthy tissue; this is to allow any cancer cells that are not visible to the naked eye to be removed with the tumour, which can reduce the chance of the tumour coming back. 

In an effort to reduce the amount of healthy tissue that needs to be removed a team based at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle are using a dye which makes cancerous tissue glow green using a specially developed infrared camera.

Mr Kenneth Rankin, consultant orthopaedic surgeon

Mr Kenneth Rankin, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Newcastle Hospitals is leading the project. He said: “This dye has been used in other cancer types such as breast and bowel cancer, but our patients are the first in Europe to undergo open sarcoma surgery using this dye.”

“We inject the dye the afternoon before surgery and using the Spy PHI special handheld infrared camera from Stryker we are able to see the tumour glow during surgery. We are still in the early stages of evaluating this technology however in the long term we hope this technique will allow us to safely take less healthy tissue from patients during surgery and preserve function for our sarcoma patients without compromising their cancer outcome.”

Clinical teams pull out all the stops to ensure service continues for cancer patients

As many hospitals look to re-start some elements of cancer treatment this week, our teams at Newcastle Hospitals have never let COVID-19 stop them from providing critical services.

From the outset of the pandemic, the Trust made a commitment to ensure patients would not be adversely affected by the organisation’s coronavirus response and still receive their treatment for cancer - or suspected cancer.

Key services such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, cancer surgery, and diagnostic testing have continued with teams developing new ways of working to minimise the risks to patients coming into the Freeman Hospital or RVI.

However, there are growing concerns that some people are not accessing services – either because they don’t want to bother NHS or from fear of getting coronavirus.

Left to right:  Dr Gail Jones, clinical director for NCCC; Mr Jeremy French, consultant hepatopancreatobiliary surgeon; David McClinton, Matron; Dr Ian Pedley, Cancer Lead at Newcastle Hospitals

Consultant clinical oncologist and cancer lead, Dr Ian Pedley, said: “Being told you have cancer and having to start treatment can be worrying enough on its own but we know the coronavirus outbreak has created an additional level of anxiety for people.

“Our mantra has always been to ensure patients get the same access to the same high quality care and treatment as they did before. Patient safety remains our top priority and we have made significant changes to ensure our services can continue to run safely throughout this pandemic.

“We would really encourage anyone who is concerned that they may have cancer symptoms such as passing blood, feeling a lump, weight loss to contact their GP.

"The earlier patients are diagnosed the better and our teams are here for you. There are a smaller group of patients whose treatment has had to be suspended but that is a clinical decision made on an individual basis and discussed with the patient.”

Find out more on the News section of our website

Hundreds more cancer patients to benefit from leading edge Tomotherapy technology

The Newcastle Hospitals have taken another positive step toward the fight against cancer with the unveiling of a brand new TomoTherapy Machine.

The TomoTherapy machine based at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC’s) Radiotherapy Department, is a highly specialised system that provides extremely precise targeting and attacking of cancer cells, and allows staff to treat even more patients with the most modern type of radiotherapy, known as Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT).

The machine also has an inbuilt CT scanner which provides detailed images of the patient’s anatomy throughout the treatment, allowing our cancer experts to closely monitor the progress and effectiveness of the treatment.


Our second TomoTherapy Machine with the multidisciplinary Radiotherapy Team who maintain and use it to treat patients

This advanced approach helps to effectively treat hard-to-reach and complex tumours and also minimises damage to surrounding healthy tissue during treatment, lowering the risk of side effects for our cancer patients.

Find out more on the News Section of our Website.

North East cancer patients first in the NHS to benefit from Trevor Sorbie charity

A new service set up by celebrity hairdresser, Trevor Sorbie, for patients affected by cancer, was launched at the Freeman Hospital’s Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) today.

mynewhair is a national charity dedicated to supporting individuals with medical hair loss. They are joining forces with cancer care specialists in Newcastle to introduce an innovative new approach by offering this service and information for the professionals, in a hospital setting.

Trevor Sorbie with former cancer patient Helen McIntyre

Trevor Sorbie, Patron and founder of the charity said:  "I am delighted with the development of this exciting collaboration. We are going to be helping so many more people in the North East with our partnership working with the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.

“It is really important that we take every opportunity to help people at a time when they most need it. mynewhair is not just about hair. It is psychological medicine for everyone suffering from hair loss through is the missing link in their treatment."

Find out more on the News Section of the Website.

Secondary cancers can now be treated with SABR technology at NCCC

Patients with secondary cancers (oligometastatic disease) have now started to be treated at the Freeman Hospital's Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) using a pioneering and precise form of radiotherapy called SABR.

SABR, or Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy, allows tumours to be treated with a high degree of accuracy, minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Earlier this year it was announced that NCCC, which has SABR capability, was selected by NHS England as one of only 17 centres in the UK to take part in an exciting new initiative to evaluate and treat certain patients with oligometastatic disease (which means their cancer has spread to up to three other parts of the body and cannot be treated surgically).

Dr Philip Atherton, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at NCCC explains: “Under this new National Initiative, SABR can now be used to treat patients with cancer which has spread to other parts of the body (also known as secondary cancer), for example, the lungs, liver or bone.

We are already using SABR to treat people with early stage lung cancers and have done since we started the SABR programme at the Freeman Hospital in June 2014.  We are therefore focusing on secondary tumours affecting the lung in the first instance, with plans to start treating tumours of the liver, adrenal glands, lymph nodes, bones and spines over the coming months”.

Find out more on the News Section of the Website.

Newcastle Cancer Expert awarded “Gold Medal”

 A Consultant Haematologist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle has been awarded a prestigious Gold Medal from the British Society of Haematology, in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of clinical care in the specialist field of blood related cancers.

Professor Graham Jackson – who has worked for the Newcastle Hospitals for over 25 years and carries out world-leading research at Newcastle University – specialises in the care and treatment of patients with myeloma.

Professor Graham Jackson with patient Pamela Page in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care

This award acknowledges his internationally acclaimed clinical expertise and contributions to research which has had a great impact on progressing treatment options for these life-threatening conditions over the years.

Professor Jackson said: “I am delighted to have received this wonderful accolade from the British Society of Haematology, of which I have been a member since 1996. Whilst I realise the Medal has been awarded to myself, I really believe I wouldn’t have achieved this, without the superb team and facilities around me.

I am a part of an exceptionally talented team, who are driven by that “can do” attitude the North East is well known for. Our work is supported by the amazing generosity of the local people who donate all that they can, so that we can carry out the world-leading research Newcastle is renowned for, at the Sir Bobby Robson Clinical Trial Unit in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care.”

Find out more on the News Section of our Website.

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