This year at tax time we are asking for your help to fund life-saving equipment used in pancreatic cancer surgery.
An intra-operative ultrasound probe can give our doctors clearer visuals during surgery, enabling greater precision, less invasiveness, less pain and a faster recovery.
Some cancers can even be treated with simple keyhole surgery instead of a major operation. The equipment is a miniaturised version of a standard ultrasound and will cost $264,000.
Roger Berry is a liver, pancreas and gallbladder surgeon who works at Cabrini.
“If the patient has the operation, but through small incisions (instead of a big cut), they recover much more quickly,” he explains.
“They’re out of hospital in a short period of time, and they get back to normal activities and their normal occupation much faster than if they had an open operation.
“And if it’s a cancer and they need other treatment, they can get on with that other treatment sooner than if it was with an open operation.”
Mr Berry says other cancer hospitals already use the mini ultrasound probe to perform major cancer surgeries.
He also explains that medical technology is constantly improving, leading to better outcomes for cancer patients… and it’s crucial Cabrini has access to this cutting edge equipment.
“Devices have become more refined, smaller and have greater capacity… In keyhole surgery all the components keep getting better year after year.
“The ultrasound has been around for a long time now. What’s new is the ability to miniaturise the device and have it on a probe that goes into the body through a very small incision.”
Mr Berry told me the “mini ultrasound probe” could be used at Cabrini for as many as 1000 operations each year.
“It is used for organs that we operate on – the liver, gallbladder, biliary tree or bile ducts, and the pancreas itself.
Mr Berry said the mini ultrasound probe also vastly reduced the margin for error.
“The really important point when you’re doing cancer surgery is that you want to remove the cancer and a margin of normal tissue. So you know the cancer’s completely removed.
“If you can use this probe to guide that margin and be absolutely certain it’s all removed… you’re ensuring you’re going to have a successful outcome.”
This also means you reduce the chances of needing another surgery in future to remove cancer cells that may have been missed the first time.
“But, I urge you to support this technology so we don’t fall behind the rest of the cancer world. We want to be at the forefront of surgery – developing skills, improving techniques and therefore improving outcome,”Mr Berry said.