Mastectomy drug trial tests begin at the Royal Cornwall Hospital

Patient wears a hospital gown  The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro has been given £250,000 to trial the new technique

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New treatment for breast cancer patients could be rolled out nationwide if a study in Cornwall proves successful.

The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro has been given £250,000 to trial a new technique, known as the "painbuster".

The procedure, which takes place in the first 48 hours after a mastectomy is being tested on 160 women from Cornwall and Devon.

Morphine will be replaced with a local anaesthetic stored in a small gadget.

'Simple technique'

The gadget, which is worn on the patient's nightgown, slowly releases the anaesthetic directly to the area where the surgery has been carried out.

Iain Brown, a consultant oncoplastic surgeon at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, said: "We know morphine is not a great thing to have in your system when you're trying to get over a big operation.

"We want our patients to wake up, sit up in bed, brush their hair and put their make-up on. If they can do that from the beginning it makes them feel great psychologically."

The hospital has been given the funding from the National Institute of Health Research to carry out the study.

Those carrying out the trial hope it will reduce the amount of time it takes women to recover from a mastectomy.

Roger Langford, a consultant anaesthetist at the hospital, said: "What we're hoping is the results are positive and this technique is beneficial.

"Then other centres can see what is a relatively simple technique, will be easy to take on and benefit their patients as well."

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