X-ray machine to help breast unit at King’s Lynn hospital

Pictured are Rachael Johnson and Amy Burger, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeons, with the new machine
Pictured are Rachael Johnson and Amy Burger, Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeons, with the new machine

Women treated at the West Norfolk Breast Unit have extra help in beating breast cancer earlier thanks to an innovative new surgical x-ray machine.

Breast surgeons at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital are now able to use a £65,000 Faxitron machine, while in theatre, to ensure they have removed all of the small cancerous lumps.

The Lynn hospital is the only hospital in Norfolk to boast this technology, which was made possible thanks to the generous donations of former patients and their families.

With the help of this equipment, surgeons can remove very small lumps, starting at just 5mm, which means better outcomes for patients.

This is the latest development in breast cancer treatment at the hospital.

Last year, the West Norfolk Breast Unit, which is a dedicated £650,000 facility, was opened and has proved popular with patients.

Consultant Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon Amy Burger says the Faxitron machine is making a difference to both patients and the medical teams.

She said: “I would like to thank all of our supporters who have raised money for equipment like this.

“By having the latest technology available, our theatre is running more efficiently which is good for our patients as they are spending less time under general anaesthetic.

“Equipment like this is helping to improve the experience for our patients, which would not be possible without the support of the community.”

The hospital has conducted more than 150 operations in which surgeons have removed breast lumps during the last year.

Many of these lumps were detected through the NHS Breast Screening Programme in which women, aged between 50 and 70, who are registered with a GP, are invited every three years for a mammogram in the community or at hospital.

The Faxitron arrived in January and has proved invaluable in these operations.

The X-ray picture allows surgeons to check if the cancer is removed and surrounded by enough healthy tissue.

Previously, the lumpectomy specimen would be transported to the Breast Unit, which took more time, and required the use of the mammogram machine.

Taking the specimen to the Breast Unit could increase the time of the procedure by 20 minutes, but now the surgeons have the answers at their fingertips.

The sample is now placed within the Faxitron which then provides an x-ray image in theatre to help surgeons.

Ms Burger said: “The pictures are better and bigger so we are able to have an answer in seconds.

“More than half of breast cancers are treated with lumpectomies.”

West Norfolk Breast Unit boasts spacious clinic and examination rooms along with a second ultrasound machine and a dedicated counselling room.

The facility also has a fitting room, improved office space and reception facilities.

The £650,000 unit was funded by the Trust and donations, including generous support from the Caron Keating Foundation.