Velindre Cancer Centre gets £4.6m for radiotherapy treatment

The centre plans to treat about 290 patients a year and develop services

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Some cancer patients whose condition had been considered inoperable will now be offered treatment after a £4.6m investment at a Cardiff hospital.

The Velindre Cancer Centre will use the Welsh government funding to provide radiotherapy treatment which trials show do not damage surrounding tissue.

The centre plans to treat about 290 patients a year and develop services.

The news comes after Cancer Research Wales pledged £1.5m to fund separate research over the next five years.

Velindre will provide stereotactic body radiotherapy treatment (SBRT) for lung cancer patients which delivers a targeted form of radiotherapy which minimises damage to surrounding tissues.

It will also provide a stereotactic radiosurgery service (SRS) which involves the precise delivery of a single fraction of high-dose radiation, usually within the skull.

A spokesperson said: "The evidence base for targeted radiotherapy treatment is developing all the time, and Velindre aim to improve patient outcomes by offering SBRT to some patients whose lung lesions are currently inoperable, and who otherwise would be offered palliative care."

Announcing the funding, Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "We know that SBRT leads to improved outcomes and survival rates, and this technology will enable Welsh patients to participate in more clinical trials.

"Our Cancer Delivery Plan places the focus on developing cutting-edge cancer services for the NHS in Wales.

"There is evidence that demonstrates a link between centres participating in clinical trials and the overall quality of clinical care for all patients."

'Cutting edge'

Dr Tom Crosby, clinical director at Velindre and medical director of the South Wales Cancer Network, described the investment as excellent news for patients who will have access to treatment that is "safer, more effective and more convenient".

He added: "This really will be an excellent development for the reputation of NHS Wales, introducing cutting edge technology is vital if we are to attract and retain the best staff in the UK."

Meanwhile, the £1.5m funding from Cancer Research Wales, an independent Welsh cancer charity, will be used for more research into the work of the Wales Cancer Bank.

Set up in 2003, it has since seen thousands of Welsh cancer patients donating tissue and blood for research at hospitals across Wales.

The investment will help to start the next phase of research helping scientists make better-informed treatment decisions and tailor individual treatments.

They will be looking back at the molecular characterisation of the tumours in a number of common cancers stored at the Wales Cancer Bank to discover "molecular fingerprints", known as biomarkers.

Prof Malcolm Mason, Cancer Research Wales professor of clinical oncology and director of the Wales Cancer Bank, said: "This funding from Cancer Research Wales is vital in helping us work towards identifying which patients can be treated appropriately with conventional cancer therapy and which should be selected for tailored treatment."

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