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AustraliaPioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life'

18:59  08 november  2018
18:59  08 november  2018 Source:   9news.com.au

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By giving youngsters standardized assessments of intellectual and academic development after diagnosis and continuing to assess them regularly after treatment Other psychologists are using their particular brands of expertise to help children and young adult cancer survivors re-engage with life .

“Life is not always straightforward.”

For a 14-year-old boy, it’s a lesson learnt perhaps a little too soon.

“You’ve just got to get over the hurdles, I guess, and get through it.”

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Mitch Williams was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

Mitch Williams has faced some of life’s toughest hurdles in the past four months.

He went to the doctor complaining of a sore knee, only to be diagnosed with an osteosarcoma; a cancerous tumour in his left leg.

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“It was shock – we just thought it was a sports injury,” Mitch’s father, John, told A Current Affair.

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Mitch talks to A Current Affair's Dimity Clancey.

“You have a tendency to jump a bit ahead and think of the worst-case scenario – we weren’t sure what the outcome was going to be.”

When Mitch was sent to see an orthopaedic surgeon, he and his parents feared the cancer would cost him his leg.

Dr Richard Boyle said every young patient like Mitch comes to him with that concern.

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Mitch's father John said the diagnosis came as a

“Way back when, he would have lost his leg,” he said, but not anymore.

Dr Boyle is pioneering surgery to give patients like Mitch a brand new prosthetic knee, which will grow as Mitch grows.

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The titanium prosthetic replaces the bones affected by the tumour – in Mitch’s case, his knee, as well as parts of his femur and tibia.

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Before his diagnosis, Mitch was a keen Aussie Rules player.

Until he stops growing, Mitch will visit Dr Boyle’s rooms every few months to have his leg lengthened by magnets.

He’ll place his leg inside a machine. Once powered up, a magnetic coil inside the machine will connect with a magnet inside Mitch’s prosthesis. It unwinds, spinning 3000 revolutions per minute, extending the leg by one millimetre every four minutes.

“It allows us to grow the leg to match the other side, so essentially he’ll be able to live a normal existence,” Dr Boyle explained.

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd A new type of prosthesis is able to be lengthened by magnets for patients who are still growing.

“I get a kick out of it, it’s a great feeling, but we’re lucky; it’s not us, it’s the technology available to us.”

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Dozens of British sufferers refused operation on the NHS travel abroad for treatment.

Surgery is rarely used as part of the main treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC), as the cancer has usually already spread by the time it is found. This is often done just before surgery with mediastinoscopy or with some of the other techniques described in Tests for Small Cell Lung Cancer .

Even better, said Dr Boyle, is that the prosthesis can last a lifetime.

“It’s kind of like a set of car tyres – so if you go and do burn outs in your car, your car tyres are going to wear out, but if you look after it, this will last.”

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd The surgical procedure means young cancer patients are more lickly to be able to keep their limbs.

For now, it’s day by day for Mitch as he learns to walk on his new titanium knee.

“Cancer is just an illness that happens to certain people,” he said.

Pioneering surgery gives young cancer patient 'normal life' © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd Mitch's father John said the diagnosis came as a

“You will get over it, they will fix you up and it may be tough at the time, but in a year’s time or two years’ time, it will all be over and you can have a normal life again – and that’s the best part.”

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