Boost for cancer centre
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On line: First new Linear Accelerator to treat cancer is unveiled at Berkshire Cancer Centre, with left, senior radiographer Shena Harknett , patient Eileen Gabini, oncology consultant DrRichard Brown and radiographer Crescencia Ndlovu.
WHEN cancer specialists began treating their first patients on a new state-of-the-art radiotherapy machine at the Royal Berkshire Hospital last week it was not a moment too soon.
The £1.5m Linear Accelerator (Linac) was just being unveiled at the Berkshire Cancer Centre when one of the trust's four older models broke down and had to be shut for a week while engineers fixed it.
Luckily the new arrival - installed to treat an extra 35 patients a day and increase the centre's capacity by a third - meant there were no delays for patients. Consultant oncologist Dr Richard Brown said: "It was very lucky we had the new machine ready to go. It was very convenient in what was a big inconvenience for us. Had it not been ready we would have had to do extra shifts to get patients seen."
The Linac, installed as part of a £6m extension at the centre and renovation of the trust's grade II listed former isolation ward, treats cancer by emitting highly accurate radioactive beams to destroy tumours.
It is set in a lead-lined bunker reinforced with two sets of dense, three-foot wide concrete blocks which are first staggered then surrounded by a border of breeze blocks to prevent the escape of potentially harmful beams.
The renovation also includes a new waiting room, offices, consulting rooms and a conference suite which will later house a virtual reality training system enabling students to learn how to use the Linac.
The centre, which treats 2,500 patients annually has two other Linacs and another one housed at the Royal Berkshire Bracknell clinic. The Chronicle's Accelerator Appeal is raising £100,000 towards a smaller £1m Elekta Compact which will replace a 19-year-old Linac and will be used for less complex treatments to free up the larger machines.
Dr Brown hailed the refurbishment as "fantastic" and added: "We've spent a lot of money to take us up to state-of-the-art treatment. It gives us more capacity and more time for more complex treatments."
Senior radiographer Shena Harknett said: "Patients need all the support at this difficult time in their lives and new radiotherapy equipment is very important for them."
To donate contact 0118 322 6969 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Donors can also text RBCL05 to 70070 followed by any amount from £1 to £10, opting for gift aid if applicable.
People can also send cheques addressed to 'The Royal Berks Charity Accelerator Fund' to Accelerator Appeal Royal Berks Charity, FREEPOST RLRJ-XCXE-XCZH, Royal Berkshire Hospital, London Road, Reading RG1 5AN.
This article appeared in Local Berkshire 10 Aug 12