London Radiation Oncologist changing the face of cervical cancer treatment
LONDON, ON, Oct. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - October 22-28 is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, and London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) patient Nicole Padfield is sharing her story of recovery thanks to an innovative treatment credited with saving her life.
Padfield, of Sarnia, Ontario, had been experiencing bothersome symptoms toward the end of her pregnancy - minor spotting, pain, discomfort - and had been examined to ensure they were nothing more than irritations. Her primary concern was for her baby, who she was assured was healthy and safe. It wasn't until a routine Pap smear was performed at her 6 week post-partum check-up that she received the devastating news - she had an aggressive form of cervical cancer.
Padfield was referred to LHSC's London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP) Gynecologic Oncology Disease Site Team where she saw Dr. David D'Souza for assessment and treatment.
Facing a cancer that was deep in the tissue and spreading, D'Souza, a radiation oncologist at LRCP, knew that Padfield was a prime candidate for a treatment that few physicians in Canada are qualified to perform - Gynecological Interstitial Brachytherapy. In layman's terms, the procedure involves the implantation of radiation 'seeds' directly into the cancerous tissues through hollow needles, treating the disease at its source. For women with cancer of the cervix or vagina which has tracked deep into the tissues, complete removal by surgery is inadequate. Standard intracavitary brachytherapy cannot penetrate far enough typically and, if done, can potentially cause life altering damage to internal organs such as the bladder and bowel.
"With interstitial radiation, we are able to administer a greater dose of radiation to these tough to treat cancers, with fewer complications than standard radiation and with a better success rate", says D'Souza.
For Padfield, it meant the difference between being an active parent to her three children, or being left with serious lifelong medical challenges - or worse.
To date, over 100 women have received this procedure at LHSC - the only hospital currently offering it in Ontario. Women have been referred from across the province and as far away as Saskatchewan. Further advances continue to be made with the LRCP having incorporated Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to visualize the tumour for targeting.
Two years after her ordeal began Padfield remains cancer free, and knows that she has Dr. D'Souza to thank for allowing her to be a healthy, active mom to her children aged two, four and eighteen.
Padfield hopes her experience can help other women who may be facing the same battle she did. "It didn't hit me at the time how serious my diagnosis was, but looking back, I know I was very fortunate that this treatment option was available. To other women, I would say if you're noticing things that just don't seem right, put your embarrassment aside and see your doctor. It may just save your life".
About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 137 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children's Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes - Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph's Health Care London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital's nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca
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