A HAMPSHIRE Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust nurse has become the UK’s first specialist nurse for a rare asbestos-related cancer.

Samantha Westbrook recently took up the role of peritoneal mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist, becoming the first nurse of her type in the country.

She is based at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, with the funding for the role being provided by national charity Mesothelioma UK.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is an extremely rare asbestos-related cancer arising from the peritoneum, or lining of the abdomen. The majority of patients are treated using chemotherapy alone, but a surgical option is available for some patients.

Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital is the largest centre in the world for treating patients with peritoneal malignancies, including peritoneal mesothelioma, making it the obvious base for Samantha, who has spent the last five years working as a lung cancer nurse with the trust, dealing with oncology and pleural mesothelioma.

In her new role, Samantha will work alongside the nationwide peritoneal malignancy multi-disciplinary team to support, advise and signpost Peritoneal Mesothelioma patients and their families from across the UK. She will also help to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments not currently commissioned by the NHS.

Samantha said: “I’m bringing experience in critical care, lung cancer and oncology to this new role and am really looking forward to specialising in this particular area.

“My appointment will enable me to fully support Peritoneal Mesothelioma patients in a ‘key worker’ capacity to ensure that they get the best attention possible.

“I’m also interested in looking at the research side of the patient diagnosis and journey, and seeing how this data can help to influence my role and our approach to treating Peritoneal Mesothelioma over time.”

Julie Dawes, chief nurse at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, said: “We are delighted to have been able to appoint Samantha to this new role and we are very grateful to Mesothelioma UK for providing the funding to make it happen. Having the UK’s first specialist nurse in this particular form of cancer will make a big difference not only for patients in Hampshire, but across the entire country.”