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Cancer treatment hailed as 'Holy Grail'

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STV report, 17 June 2010: Revolutionary treatment for cancer of the gullet guarantees a cure if caught early enough.

A new treatment for a type of cancer where Scotland has the highest number of cases in the world is being called the Holy Grail in the search for a cure.

Cancer of the gullet is particularly aggressive but if caught early enough, patients can be given a revolutionary treatment now available on the NHS, which guarantees a cure.

Oesophageal cancer is aggressive and it kills, usually within a year.

Cancer treatment hailed as 'Holy Grail'

It can affect anyone, however middle class and middle age men are particularly vulnerable. But now there is a cure.

Consultant surgeon Grant Fullerton said: "What we have now is a treatment which can prevent cancer. It's fantastically exciting, we've
never had anything like it before.

"In my surgical career, it's always been the Holy Grail if you like and to have something like this now is just so exciting for us and everybody involved in it, the whole team, are incredibly excited by this development.

If caught early enough, in the pre-cancerous stage - called Barrett's oesophagus - successful treatment involves using high frequency radio waves to blast malignant cells.

They are killed off and the body replaces them naturally with healthy new cells which are completely free from cancer.

Now the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence which makes recommendations to the NHS on new and existing medicines and procedures has given this treatment the green light, which means it is available to everyone.

Oesophageal cancer can also be hereditary so it came as no surprise to father and son Alistair and Gordon MacMillan when they were both diagnosed with pre cancerous stage.

Both suffered from heartburn, a common symptom, but they have been treated successfully and are living life to the full.

Gordon MacMillan said: "I got it done on the Tuesday, a week and a half before my stag do, and I was fully recovered in time for the stag do the weekend after, so it just gives you an indication of how quick you can get on and get it done and recover in time.

Alistair MacMillan said: "There was no way I was not going to get it done. I've got absolutely no problems at all with worrying what could happen because it's been nipped in the bud."

The unit itself is mobile and its relatively cheap at £30 000. But for smart technology that is saving lives, its makes economic
sense.

Grant Fullerton added: "We've never had any treatment ever which has shown a decrease in oesophageal cancer development so this, I can't stress how important this is in the field of oesophageal cancer.

In the last 15 years, Scotland has seen a 500% increase in the rate of oesophageal cancer, so the eyes of the world are watching results of this treatment very carefully.

Eddie Mair

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