Estimates show there could be up to 43,000 people in the East Midlands who are struggling with the long term side effects of cancer treatment, which may appear several years after the actual treatment itself.
Many patients who recover from cancer are often left with side effects of the treatments which saved their lives.
People who receive radiotherapy to combat cancers in the pelvic area, such as cervical, bladder or prostate cancer are the largest group affected as they can be left with bowel problems after surgery or chemotherapy.
Altogether, there are 170,000 survivors of cancer in the East Midlands. But while they are generally pleased to be rid of the tumours, around a quarter of those – some 43,000 – will be struggling to find useful treatments to help with these side effects.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” says consultant bowel specialist Dr Jervoise Andreyev – one of the few doctors researching and treating bowel consequences of cancer treatments.
Working for 17 years at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, Dr Andreyev researched and published widely on the subject of post-cancer recovery. Now, he has moved his practice to BMI The Park Hospital in Nottingham and BMI The Lincoln Hospital, treating private patients alongside his research programme at Lincoln County Hospital.
His research has indicated that when patients have successfully beaten cancer in their pelvic area, nine out of 10 patients report a long term change in their bowel habit, with half saying it affects their daily lives and up to one third saying it has moderate or severe effects by causing problems with controlling their bowels, diarrhoea, cramps, wind or painful bloating. In addition four out of 10 report problems with urination and one in three long-term sexual problems.
Dr Andreyev uses carefully tailored tests to create individual care options for the patient. This may include very simple interventions such as antibiotics, exercises and dietary changes to much more complex treatments designed to overcome the effect of the scar tissue resulting from the cancer therapies.
“Everyone’s experience and set of symptoms is different and needs a different approach but it is unusual not to be able to make a significant difference,” said Dr Andreyev.
John Lindars, Executive Director at BMI The Park Hospital, said: “We are very fortunate to have Dr Andreyev working with us. His expertise is going to be extremely helpful for patients in the East Midlands who have undergone successful treatment for their cancer but who are left with side effects from radiotherapy”.
16th January 2018