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UK tennis stars support Baltacha's cancer fight

UK tennis stars have rallied behind former British women's tennis number one Elena Baltacha after she revealed she has liver cancer.

Current British number one Laura Robson and Anne Keothavong who was at the top of British female tennis with Baltacha for many years, took to Twitter to show their support.

Ukrainian-born Baltacha vowed to fight the cancer "with everything I have" after revealing her diagnosis yesterday.

Baltacha was diagnosed with a liver condition at 19

At the age of 19 former British tennis number one Elena Baltacha was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis, a chronic liver condition which affects the immune system.

Elena Baltacha. Credit: EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport

Elena managed the condition throughout her career with medication and regular blood tests. She went on to win 11 singles titles.

She has been a patron of the Children's Liver Disease Foundation since 2010.


Judy Murray: Elena Baltacha 'determined and upbeat'

Judy Murray, captain of the Aegon GB Fed Cup Team has said former tennis British number one Elena Baltacha remains 'determined and upbeat'.

Great Britain's Elena Baltacha in 2013.

Judy said: "Obviously this is a tough time for Bally, Nino and her family but she is a such a determined, upbeat person and everyone around her is staying positive as well. I know she'll be really grateful for all the support that she's getting."

Former tennis ace Elena Baltacha diagnosed with cancer

Former British tennis number one Elena Baltacha has revealed on Twitter that she has been diagnosed with cancer of the liver.

"I have recently been diagnosed with cancer of the liver. I'm currently undergoing treatment and fighting this illness with everything I have," said Elena.

She and her husband Nino said they would like to thank everyone for their continued support.

Liver treatment is 'truly groundbreaking'

Dr Brian Stedman, a consultant interventional radiologist at Southampton General Hospital, has used the treatment on two patients.

To cut off an organ from the body for 60 minutes, soak it in a high dose of drug and then filter the blood almost completely clean before returning is truly groundbreaking.

Previously, the outlook for patients specifically suffering from cancer which has spread to the liver has been poor because the effect of standard chemotherapies is limited by the unwanted damage the drug causes to the rest of the body.

– Dr Brian Stedman

Results of a recent study in the US showed patients who received PHP survived five times longer before the disease - metastatic melanoma - progressed than those who had standard chemotherapy.

How the new liver cancer treatment works

The new liver cancer treatment is known as chemosaturation therapy or percutaneous hepatic perfusion (PHP).

By separating the organ using two balloons to divert the blood supply past the liver, it enables the drugs to be delivered directly and at much higher dosage.

Following the treatment, the blood from the liver is drained from the patient and processed through a filtration machine to reduce toxicity before being returned to the patient via the jugular vein.


'Landmark moment' hailed in UK cancer treatment

Cancer care has reached a "landmark moment" with a groundbreaking treatment being used for the first time in the country to treat the disease in the liver by "bathing" it in chemotherapy.

The organ is isolated from the body for 60 minutes during the process.

In addition to studies in the US, the technique has been used in Germany, Italy, Ireland and France.

British radiologists who have used the treatment believe it could go on to be used for a number of other cancers, including colon, breast and melanoma.