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  1. ITV Report

Six hour operation could help find cure for oesophageal cancer

  • Watch Richard Slee's full report below:

More lives could be saved thanks to cutting edge cancer research in Southampton.

A five year project at Southampton General Hospital is hoping to find a cure for oesophageal cancer.

Two years in, and the medical team say they are well ahead of schedule.

The medical team at Southampton General Hospital say they are ahead of schedule Credit: ITV Meridian

Oesophageal cancer is one of the most deadly types of cancer, with a survival rate of less than one in five.

Twenty patients have been treated as part of the research so far, including Janet Jenkins from Alton.

She allowed her six hour operation, to remove most of her oesophagus, to be filmed so that there is a full account of the procedure.

Immediately after the operation, samples of her tumour are taken to the Cancer Research UK centre to be analysed.

For Janet, the cancer hasn't spread, and her prognosis is very good.

Janet underwent a six hour operation which was filmed for research Credit: ITV Meridian

The UK has the highest incidents of oesophageal cancer in the world.

In the south and south east alone, more than 1,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.

What we're hoping to understand is how cells interact within a tumour, to understand the eco-system and disrupt those interactions to develop better treatments."

"The big change for patients is going to be tailoring treatments to the individual patient and to their tumour, so that we can understand how the patients reacts to their cancer and disrupt that reaction so we can treat patients better."

– Prof Tim Underwood, Consultant Surgeon

Southampton is one of only a few places in the world where this research is happening.

A £1.4 million grant from Cancer Research UK has made it happen.

If the success continues, then it is hoped in the next few years survival rates for oesophageal cancer could double from 15% to 30%.

  • Watch the full video of Janet's operation below. A warning, the video does contain some graphic medical scenes.