A DOCTOR from Kirkby Lonsdale who has twice survived cancer has spoken of her relief after undergoing a pioneering new treatment for the condition.

Dr Shehzana Fraser, 56, was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of uterus cancer - known as endometrial cancer - affecting the womb.

Five weeks ago, mother-of-one Dr Fraser underwent a hysterectomy to treat the tumour.

Ten years prior to this, the GP received surgery for breast cancer.

However, this time, owing to medical technology that is unique to the North West, a considerable degree of the surgery was not needed for her treatment.

The surgery, which was performed by consultant gynaecological oncologist Mr Georgios Angelopoulos, was a form of keyhole operation that involves the use of a Pinpoint High Definition Fluorescent Imaging System.

The system, which is used for sentinel lymph node detection and mapping, was purchased by charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation for its Preston health centre at a cost of £110,000.

Lymph nodes are little collections of tissue that contain immune cells and work to filter harmful substances, including infections, from the body. Sentinel lymph nodes are the first lymph nodes to which cancer cells are likely to spread.

The imaging system is made up of a laparoscope, which is a thin tube. At its end, it has a powerful infra-red camera. The camera enables surgeons to find the sentinel lymph nodes in the pelvic sidewall and have just these examined to check if cancer has spread rather than excising (removing) some further or even all nodes.

Dr Frazer said: “I was delighted to be offered the Pinpoint sentinel node mapping procedure and then very relieved that it could be carried out successfully during my surgery.

"I was aware that this wasn’t widely available despite the fact that it offers the chance of a less extensive operation with fewer side effects. I was able to leave hospital the next day and although I had been given pain relief I was fortunate to only need paracetamol.

“Both as a doctor and as a patient, I feel the unequal availability of the procedure depending on where you live is a great pity and the fact remains that the NHS does rely on the contribution of charitable funding for some of these innovative treatments.”

Mr Angelopoulos said: “Having the Pinpoint imaging system enables less radical surgery, which means quicker surgery and therefore, shorter anaesthetic, less blood loss, less pain, reduced hospital stay, a faster recovery and less risk of complications such as lymphoedema, which is swelling to the pelvis and legs.”