A PIONEERING cancer treatment which could save as many as 120 women from Swindon and Wiltshire each year making daily trips to radiotherapy centres will be made available to Great Western Hospital patients.

Following its approval by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) intraoperative radiotherapy will be available within months.

Great Western Hospital will be one of only six hospitals in the UK to offer the ground-breaking treatment, which will be funded by NHS England.

In a switch from traditional treatment methods, breast cancer patients will be given a one-off dose of radiotherapy while still in the operating theatre.

Experts say it has the potential to save as many as 120 women from Swindon and Wiltshire each year from making daily trips to radiotherapy centres in Oxford, Bath and Cheltenham for treatment in post-surgery weeks.

The state-of-the-art equipment used for the procedure, which was part funded through an appeal by charity Brighter Futures, has been at GWH since 2015, but only used sporadically as part of a pilot project

A Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said the treatment would enable patients to focus solely on the fight against the disease, rather than travel

“The decision by NICE to approve this pioneering treatment will make a huge difference to the lives of more than 100 women going through breast cancer treatment each year," he said.

"By removing the need to travel for radiotherapy in the weeks after surgery, patients can focus 100 per cent on their recovery without the added anxiety of worrying about travel or further tumour growth.

“We’ve given this treatment to a small selection of women since 2015 and, in each case, the results have been extremely pleasing so it’s incredibly exciting that we’ll soon be able to offer this cutting edge technology on a much larger scale.”

NICE, which is responsible for recommending or refusing new treatments, described the intraoperative radiotherapy as ‘promising’.

Other benefits includes patients having less pain and sensitivity, a reduced risk of infection and quicker recovery times.

Heading the GWH treatment team is consultant breast surgeon Nathan Coombs who said in 2015: “Any treatment that can make the cancer journey a little bit easier is a wonderful thing.”

Professor Carole Longson, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, said: “This is a promising new way of providing radiotherapy but the evidence needs to develop.

“The committee therefore recommends that its use is carefully controlled and accompanied by gathering additional information on its clinical effectiveness.”

Great Western Hospital hopes to raise £2.9 million in the two year-appeal to pay for a dedicated radiotherapy centre. Brighter Futures, the fundraising arm of the Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust officially launched the bid last May, which could see long journeys for radiotherapy become a thing of the past.

The current total stands at more than £1.4m.