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Published on 31 March 2010

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Campaign to raise awareness of cancer treatment


Matt Dawson launches campaign about a highly effective form of radiotherapy to treat cancer.

The former England Rugby World Cup winner launched the ‘Because Life is for Living’ campaign to raise awareness about brachytherapy.

A new cancer patient survey revealed 75% of  patients with cancer have never heard of brachytherapy – a state-of-the-art technology that brings the radiation dose directly to the target cancer area, avoiding damage to healthy tissues and organs, and minimising side effects. Of those 25% who are aware, only one in four have been offered the  treatment.

Professor Peter Hoskin, Consultant Clinical Oncologist from Mount Vernon Hospital, Middlesex said, “Brachytherapy is little known among cancer patients despite new technology having developed the practice to an increasingly effective treatment option.  With brachytherapy, many people don’t have to stay in hospital when they have brachytherapy, or if they do, the time is much less than other options such as surgery.”

“Having had close family members suffer from cancer, we obviously wanted to find the best possible treatment available, and having easy access to information and learning about our options was a crucial step to helping us deal with the situation,” said Matt Dawson.  “That is why I support the ‘Because Life is for Living’ campaign which encourages patients and their loved ones to make informed treatment choices,” he added.

The ‘Because Life is for Living’ campaign encourages people with cancer and their carers to enter the new website to source information that along with their doctors can help them make informed treatment choices.

Compared to other forms of radiotherapy like external beam (EBRT), brachytherapy can deliver the required dose of radiation over a significantly shortened treatment time.  In treating prostate cancer, for example, normal treatment times that can take up to seven weeks with EBRT take only one or two days with  brachytherapy.(4,5)  Additionally, the precise delivery of radiation reduces the risk of unnecessary damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs which can help reduce side effects.  Again, in prostate cancer the risk of side effects like incontinence and erectile dysfunction is lower than with other treatment options.(3) These factors minimise disruption to patients and allow a faster return to everyday life.

The ICM patient survey showed that men were more likely to be offered the treatment.  Four in 10 men were aware of brachytherapy compared to less than 1 in 10 women.  Awareness among women needs to be increased because brachytherapy can be as effective in treating female-specific indications like breast and gynaecological cancer as it is in treating prostate cancer in men and with the same minimised side effects.(3)

Dr. Rachel Cooper, Consultant Clinical Oncologist from St James’ University Hospital, Leeds, believes this is due to low awareness of what brachytherapy is and what types of cancers it helps treat.

“Brachytherapy is often used to treat prostate cancer,” explains Dr. Cooper,” but it is also a proven type of radiotherapy being used successfully in a range of other cancers such as gynaecological, breast, oesophagus, skin and rectal cancer.”

Since the ICM survery was it conducted it came to light that cancer cancer patients frequently access the Internet for treatment information.

“The more information available to patients and their families, the better,” added Matt Dawson. “Information about effective treatment options like brachytherapy should be easy to find for anyone dealing with cancer.”.

For more information please click the link below:


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