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Local charity raises cash for new equipment for Eden Breast Screening Unit

Staff from the breast screening unit including Mr Barthelmes receiving the cheque from Cumbria Breast Cancer Support group. Lesley Norman is far right.

Nearly £2000 has been presented to the Eden Breast Screening Unit at the Cumberland Infirmary.

The money has been raised by the Cumbria Breast Cancer Support group and is the start of a campaign to raise £10,000 to buy specialist equipment for the unit.

Glenda Graham co chair

Lesley Norman, chair of the group, said: “We were approached by the charity Tickled Pink to see if we would support a fundraiser in Asda in which the ‘Oompah Fünf’ band was playing. That’s where we met Mr Ludger Barthelmes, a breast surgeon at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust. He explained that he and his band were raising money to help buy some specialised equipment to help ensure that tumours are easily located during breast surgery. We immediately said that we would help raise the money for the Trust to buy the equipment and we set about organising the first of a series of fundraising events.”

The group has so far raised £2000 by helping to pack bags for shoppers at Tesco and Asda.

Lesley added: “People have been so kind and we are very grateful. Some shoppers stopped to tell us their story and I know this equipment will help many people going through breast cancer.”

Mr Barthelmes explained more about the equipment: “With the advances in breast imaging, we are now able to diagnose breast cancer long before it presents as a palpable lump. Furthermore, breast cancer patients are being increasingly treated with chemotherapy before surgery. The chemotherapy shrinks the tumour and when it comes to surgery, the tumour can no longer be felt.  Currently to help surgeons locate the tumour a soft guidewire is inserted by the radiologist under local anaesthetic on the day of surgery, this process is then repeated after surgery to remove the wire.

“The equipment that we would like to purchase is called Radiofrequency Seed Localisation. Radiofrequency seeds are small metallic pellets about the size of a rice grain. They can be introduced into the tumour under ultrasound or x-ray guidance weeks or even months before surgery. A special probe detects the radio-signal which is emitted from the ‘seed pellet’ which enables the surgeon to localise the pellet within the breast and remove the surrounding tissue.

“This method is less intrusive for the patient, who do not have to go through the process of inserting the guidewire on the day of surgery and people will spend less time in hospital.”

The radiofrequency seed equipment costs about £10,000 and the Cumbria Breast Cancer support group have already raised £2000. There are plans for further bucket collections in various stores and the town square in Carlisle in October (during breast cancer awareness month) to reach the target amount.

Mr Ludger Barthelmes added: “The breast service staff and I are incredibly grateful to the Cumbria Breast Cancer Support Group for their support in helping us purchase this equipment.”

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