Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 12:07 UK

Patient helps pioneer CyberKnife

Dr Andrew Gaya and Robert Ferrant
Robert Ferrant (r) is one of 30 patients Dr Andrew Gaya is treating

A man from Jersey has become one of the first people in the UK to undergo an advanced form of radiotherapy to treat an inoperable cancer.

Robert Ferrant, 62, was given just a few months to live after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He has undergone treatment with a £3m CyberKnife machine which targets tumours with greater accuracy and does not damage as much healthy tissue.

He is one of 30 patients treated by Dr Andy Gaya at a Harley Street clinic.

Mr Ferrant, who was born in Saint Ouen, was diagnosed with cancer in December.

About 7,600 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year but the condition is often advanced by the time it is identified.

I actually have hope of a cure
Robert Ferrant

Dirty Dancing star Patrick Swayze is suffering from the disease, it was announced last year.

Patients generally have a poor prognosis, with only 13% of people alive a year after diagnosis and only 3% surviving for five years.

Mr Ferrant was told about CyberKnife by a friend.

"I was a bit sceptical about new cancer treatments like this to be honest but we investigated it," he said.

The treatment works by delivering multiple beams of high dose radiation from a wide variety of angles using a robotic arm.

X-ray cameras monitor the patient's breathing and re-position the radiotherapy beam in order to minimise damage to healthy tissue.

This accuracy enables tumours in difficult or dangerous positions to be treated.

Mr Ferrant underwent three two-hour sessions last week, receiving 309 targeted beams of radiotherapy per session.

"It was a no brainer," Mr Ferrant said as he discussed his treatment options.

CyberKnife machine
A robotic arm delivers radiation from a variety of angles

"The other treatment was only going to extend my life by about three months. With CyberKnife, I actually have hope of a cure."

He will attend a check-up in the next four weeks to see how much his tumour has shrunk as a result.

His health insurance company is paying for his £22,000 course of treatment.

Dr Andy Gaya has treated about 30 patients so far and is overseeing Mr Ferrant's care.

He said: "For Mr Ferrant specifically, without having a go at this treatment, his chance of cure or long term survival was zero.

"But CyberKnife gives him the chance of long-term survival and even cure."

Patients usually have no more than five treatments with CyberKnife although there is the option for more treatment if they relapse.

The machine itself costs between £2m and £3m. Fitting and the creation of a lead-lined bunker puts the total cost of installation at almost £6m.

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