HRH The Duke of Cambridge visits The Royal Marsden to see latest innovations in cancer treatment and diagnosis

HRH The Duke of Cambridge visited The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust today to find out about some of the latest ways the hospital is helping to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge talking to Royal Marsden staff
HRH The Duke of Cambridge speaking to Royal Marsden staff

The Duke observed an interventional radiology procedure and visited a mobile health clinic called ‘the Man Van’, which is aiming to speed up the detection of prostate and other urological cancers in men at increased risk.

During the visit, His Royal Highness also paid tribute to Deborah James, who he visited in her family home on May 14 to confer her with a Damehood. The Duke spoke with a number of staff who have been involved in Deborah’s treatment and care over the last five years about the legacy Deborah is leaving, how she has inspired other patients with her positivity and has now raised £6.5m from her Bowel Babe Fund for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Cancer Research UK and Bowel Cancer UK.

The Duke joined Consultant Interventional Radiologist, Dr Nicos Fotiadis, to witness a live, robot-guided microwave ablation. This type of interventional radiology procedure uses energy from electromagnetic waves to heat and destroy advanced cancer. This is done via a probe, which is inserted into the patient through a tiny incision of just one to two millimetres wide. The use of the robot decreases the time of the procedure, is more accurate, and can access locations in the body that would be difficult to target otherwise. As a specialist cancer centre, The Royal Marsden is the first to use a robot to assist in ablations and is working to prove the efficacy so that the technique may be rolled out more widely.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge watching robot-guided microwave ablation with Consultant Interventional Radiologist, Dr Nicos Fotiadis

The Duke also spoke with a patient, Lorraine Kimber, who has previously had this procedure. Lorraine spoke about the benefits to patients of ablation, which includes faster recovery time, less pain and no scarring, compared to other surgical techniques.

Dr Nicos Fotiadis said: “The Royal Marsden is at the forefront of developing game-changing cancer treatments that are increasingly precise and effective. It was a pleasure to show The Duke how ablation works today and for him to hear first-hand from a patient what the benefits are.”

The Duke also visited the Man Van, a new mobile health clinic which is providing free health checks for men and which aims to diagnose prostate and other urological cancers earlier, when treatment is more likely to be successful. The innovative pilot project was developed by The Royal Marsden, RM Partners West London Cancer Alliance, and The Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR), with support from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The van is visiting workplaces and community hubs, including churches and medical centres, in West London. It is focused on men of working age who often have worse prostate cancer outcomes than older men, and black men, who have roughly double the risk of developing prostate cancer. The Duke stepped on board and heard all about the process men go through during a visit, from conversations about health and lifestyle, mental health and the offer of a blood test to check Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels which, if high, may mean further investigation is required.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge speaking to staff and Man Van patients outside Man Van

The pilot programme will examine whether this care model can improve diagnosis and survival of men in these high-risk groups. If successful, the approach could be rolled out more widely across the NHS.

During the visit, The Duke spoke to Bishop Mark Nicholson, who attended an appointment in the Man Van and has since been supporting the project. Mark said:

“Before getting involved with the Man Van, I had no idea that one in four black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. It was terrible to find out the risk is so high. Most of my congregation are black and, over the years, I’ve sadly carried out the funerals of many people who have died from the disease. Having the opportunity to meet The Duke and discuss this project with him today was a real honour as I think this initiative has the potential to have a significant impact on my community.”

Dame Cally Palmer, Chief Executive of The Royal Marsden, said: “It was a privilege to welcome our President, The Duke of Cambridge, back to The Royal Marsden to show him some of our new developments. From initiatives to diagnose cancer earlier, to increasingly precise treatments to target advanced disease, we’re finding ways to improve every stage of the cancer pathway.”