Appeal to improve cancer treatment at Norfolk hospital surpasses quarter-way mark

Tom Roques, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital consultant oncologist.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY Tom Roques, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital consultant oncologist. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Monday, August 5, 2013
9:48 AM

Hopes of turning a Norfolk hospital into a regional leader for cancer treatment have received a boost after passing the quarter-way mark in a fundraising appeal.

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The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital launched a public appeal last autumn to raise £600,000 to help treat more cancer patients locally and to shorten their treatment times.

Officials from the NHS trust spoke of their delight after receiving more than £160,000 from donations and fundraising activities in less than a year.

However, they have called on the people of Norfolk and north Suffolk to do what they can to help them to hit the target by 2015.

Bosses at Norfolk’s biggest hospital hope to treat more cancer patients a year as part of its Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal by upgrading the Colney Centre to offer more brachytherapy treatments.

Officials from the foundation trust said that the £600,000 would be spent on buying new equipment and constructing an operating theatre to treat some prostate, lung, colon and oesophageal cancers.

The hospital already treats around 50 patients a year with brachytherapy for cervical cancer and doctors hope to treat around 100 prostate cancer patients a year with the treatment, which is more effective in targeting a tumour.

Tom Roques, clinical director of the Colney Centre, said normal radiotherapy targeted the cancer from the outside, but it has to go through healthy tissue to get there. With brachytherapy, the radiotherapy is put inside the tumour and is treated from the inside out.

“For some patients with prostate cancer there is some evidence there is an advantage of brachytherapy over normal radiotherapy.”

“There are 57 radiotherapy centres in the country and most do brachytherapy. However, there is nowhere else in East Anglia doing high dose brachytherapy. The public are always very willing to give their time and volunteer to support something like this and we are getting the message out,” said Dr Roques.

The changes would mean that the hospital could treat more patients and become one of just 10 hospital trusts in the country offering prostate brachytherapy. Currently, men who need prostate brachytherapy have to travel to Cambridge or London each time.

Louise Cook, fundraising manager at the N&N, said the public had been extremely generous so far with young people handing over their spare change at the Royal Norfolk Show and a collector selling his vintage bike and giving £2,000 to the appeal.

“We are looking to 2015 for funding and it takes time to get awareness and it is getting people to become aware that this is a charity and is not being subsidised by the NHS,” she said.

“If you want luxury items, that is where the charity comes in and it is about providing over and above the standard treatment.

“If you have prostate cancer, you will be treated well here, but we want to give a platinum service.”

“Patients have 37 treatments of radiotherapy at the moment, but if we get this up and running, we can give 15 treatments of radiotherapy and one treatment of brachytherapy, which means that we have extra space for patients.

“It cuts the treatment time from seven-and-a-half weeks to three weeks and if you are living with cancer, that is a huge difference. The long-term side effects with brachytherapy are less,” she said.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital is already ploughing £4.5m into an expansion of its radiotherapy department, which is on course for completion by the end of the year, and include a new building and two additional machines and will increase capacity by a third.

One of the Targeted Radiotherapy Appeal’s next big fundraising events will be the Cambridge to Norwich Bike Ride on Sunday, September 29.

The 77 mile cycle ride will start from Coldham’s Common and wind along country roads before ending at Earlham Park, in Norwich.

It is the third year the hospital has held a fundraising cycle ride.

Donate online by visiting www.justgiving.com/NNUH-TargetedRadiotherapyAppeal. Text a donation by texting NNUH44 £10 to 70070. Donations can also be sent to the NNUH Charitable Fund, 6th Floor, Fundraising, 20 Rouen Road, Norwich Norfolk NR1 1QQ

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