Clinic treating former cancer patients for radiotherapy side-effects secures its future

A clinic, funded by charity Rosemere Cancer Foundation to treat former cancer patients left with side-effects from radiotherapy treatment, has received such positive feedback from those it has helped its future is now secure with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTR) agreeing to take over its running costs.
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The radiographer-led Late Effects Pelvic Radiation Disease (PRD) Clinic at Rosemere Cancer Centre received £283,521 from Rosemere Cancer Foundation to open up in April 2021.

Since then, it has treated close to 100 patients, who had been left with rectal bleeding, bladder and faecal urgency and incontinence, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, constipation and female sexual dysfunction as side-effects of radiotherapy treatment for prostate, bladder, rectum, anus and gynaecological cancers.

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Typically, these patients had between three and six clinic appointments at which they were, depending on need and response, prescribed medication and given self-help management advice.

Advanced specialist practitioner in the late effects of PRD Rachel Rigby. The PRD clinic she managesAdvanced specialist practitioner in the late effects of PRD Rachel Rigby. The PRD clinic she manages
Advanced specialist practitioner in the late effects of PRD Rachel Rigby. The PRD clinic she manages

Among the data collated to support the continuation of the clinic were patient testimonies. These included the endorsement of a bladder cancer patient, who underwent radiotherapy in 2013 and who credited the clinic team with having been “game-changing”.

A retired teacher, who was treated with internal and external radiotherapy for cervical cancer at Manchester’s The Christie Hospital in 1989, said: “There was no help given with the debilitating side-effects of radiotherapy, including bowel and bladder problems, which greatly affected my teaching career, until 34 years later after a gynaecology appointment when I was referred to the late effects service.”

She added: “I cannot praise those who run this service enough. Following a trial with different medication, my symptoms are much improved and I feel more confident leaving home knowing I am not going to spend considerable amounts of time looking for toilets. I will be 70 this year and look forward to my life ahead with a new optimism.”

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A third patient treated for anal cancer in 2022 described the clinic as a “service that cancer patients need for their wellbeing.”

Rachel (right) with clinic colleague, dietician Caroline HarrowerRachel (right) with clinic colleague, dietician Caroline Harrower
Rachel (right) with clinic colleague, dietician Caroline Harrower

The clinic is managed by advanced specialist practitioner in the late effects of PRD Rachel Rigby. Rachel explained: “Radiotherapy is a very effective cancer treatment that is becoming kinder. It is used as a curative treatment and thanks to new ultra precise delivery methods, damage to healthy cells that surround the cancer site is increasingly minimised.

“However, pelvic radiotherapy can leave some patients with side–effects that can significantly impact on their quality of life. Often, they put up with them as a trade-off for being cancer-free but it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Rachel added: “We have demonstrated a need for a late effects PRD service and how accessing it has been life changing for patients, most of which have had to manage chronic symptoms for many years. If you or someone you know has been left with life impacting side-effects following pelvic radiotherapy, it’s never too late to ask for a clinic referral.”

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Dan Hill, who is now head of charities for LTHTR but was Rosemere Cancer Foundation’s chief officer when the clinic first opened, said: “We are incredibly proud that our PRD clinic pilot project has now become part of cancer services at Rosemere Cancer Centre.

“The clinic team has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of and provide treatment for PRD, a condition that causes much suffering but is often hidden by patients themselves, who are just grateful to have been cured of their cancer. The clinic is pioneering. By acknowledging PRD as a very real issue, we are confident patient referrals will continue to grow as word spreads. We wish everyone connected with the clinic the very best for the future.”

Rosemere Cancer Foundation works to bring world class cancer treatments and services to cancer patients from throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria being treated at Rosemere Cancer Centre, the region’s specialist cancer treatment and radiotherapy centre at the Royal Preston Hospital, and also at another eight local hospital cancer units across the two counties.

The charity funds cutting edge equipment, research and initiatives like the late effects PRD clinic along with staff training and other innovative services that the NHS cannot afford in order to make patients’ cancer journey more effective, comfortable and stress-free. For further information on its work, including how to make a donation, visit

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