“I was sent for an ultrasound scan and later another scan and they discovered a growth on the back of my tongue. Following a biopsy I was given the news that I had Cancer of my right tonsil which was quite a shock,” said Susanne.
After subsequent scans, it was found that the Cancer was fortunately contained to the one location and a program of Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy was commenced.
Susanne underwent six weeks of Radiotherapy, five days a week, with Chemotherapy one day a week and in addition Susanne was invited to take part in a clinical trial which involved Liteform treatment three times a week.
“It was an easy decision for me to take part in the trial. If there was a chance that some additional treatment might help me and others with the research then I was keen to take part,” added Susanne.
The Liteform laser therapy was part of a national study involving Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust which used a weak laser light to see if it helps people with mouth sores (oral mucositis).
Patients undergoing Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy can suffer inflammation in the lining of the mouth that can cause pain, dryness, ulcers and difficulty swallowing, a condition called oral mucositis. The condition can be so debilitating that it can lead to patients withdrawing from treatment.
The purchase of a Liteform Machine needed to provide the treatment had been made possible through funding from the Cancer Research Fund for Cornwall, part of Royal Cornwall Hospitals Charity. The nationwide project will follow the progress of 380 patients over 47 months, using the machine to treat the affected tissue through the use of low-energy lasers, inside or outside the mouth, with the aim to reduce inflammation and stimulate the healing process.
Susanne personally feels that she benefitted from the therapy, although due to the randomised nature of the trial, it is not known if she received the live treatment or a dummy (inactive) laser treatment.
“I had hardly any blisters and could swallow all through my treatment and although I will never know if I received the active treatment I felt I had a relatively good experience,” she added.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust are committed to active research with the benefits of this work widely recognised,
“It is well known that Trusts that take part in research on the whole have better outcomes for patients. We have participated and indeed led many trials where favourable results have changed care guidelines and procedures which can only be a good thing,” Duncan Wheatley, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.
Susanne is now doing well and has been given the all clear but will be on continued monitoring in the coming months and years.
“I would recommend to anyone to take part in a trial if they have the opportunity. I have to say that the additional observations and monitoring were very reassuring and in fact I felt more special!”