London: A new implant could transform cancer treatment by removing the dangerous build-up of fluid caused by many cancers in the body of patient.

Cancer cells secrete a fluid called ascites causing acute discomfort and the process of having litres of fluid drained out at hospitals can take several days.

The pump drains the dangerous build-up into the bladder, to be expelled naturally through the urinary tract. A British woman with ovarian cancer became the first to have the pump implanted under her skin at the Hammersmith Hospital in London.

The unnamed 62-year-old is said to have been in great discomfort, requiring five litres of fluid being drained from her abdomen every three weeks, a newspaper reported.

About a third of women with ovarian cancer develop ascites, a build-up of fluid in the abdomen. Cancers of the bowel, pancreas, uterus and breast can also cause the problem.

The alfapump, as it is known, could also provide doctors with a new means of monitoring the progress of the ovarian cancer by allowing them to easily and regularly examine cancer cells from the ascites passed out in the urine, without the need for biopsy.

Hani Gabra, professor and director of the UK's Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, is leading the trial of the pump. He said although the pump was used in an ovarian cancer patient on this occasion, ascites were common in various types of cancer.


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