Hi-tech treatment for cancer patients

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Southampton Research CentreThe number of cancer patients getting radiotherapy treatment in Southampton will double with introduction of new equipment.

Currently 100 patients a day receive radiotherapy in the new £20m oncology centre at Southampton General Hospital.

This number of patients is due to double with a new machine unveiled by Southampton Itchen MP John Denham to mark the completion of phase two of the multi-million pound centre.

Dr Carol Davis, lead cancer consultant at Southampton General Hospital, said: "By April, we will have six fully operational linear accelerators, allowing us to perform more sophisticated treatments with reduced waiting times, at the same time as potentially reducing side effects for patients."

As well as the new radiotherapy machines being introduced Mr Denham also unveiled a newly installed state-of-the-art CT simulator believed to be the only one of its particular type in the UK.

The CT simulator will be used to plan vital treatment for cancer patients across the whole Wessex region by using a highly detailed 3D scan of a patient's body around the tumour site to plan and design radiotherapy treatment.

Doctors use it to design exactly the right radiation beam shape and orientation, calculate dosages and make an accurate plan of the treatment before it takes place.

Mr Denham said: "People who use the NHS know that the services have improved immensely since Labour came to power in 1997.

"Between 1997 and 2005, the number of doctors and hospital dentists employed by the NHS in England increased by over 32,000 and the number of nurses increased by over 85,000. These new facilities show the real picture in the NHS."

Dr Davis added: "This new equipment represents some of the world's most advanced cancer treatment technology, helping us to give our patients an even better service."

By 2012, the creation of the Southampton Oncology Centre will be complete, transforming the provision of cancer care for local residents.

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