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New Superficial treatment unit offers enhanced skin cancer treatment

Patients in Cornwall needing specialist radiotherapy treatment for superficial skin cancers no longer face lengthy journeys for treatment out of county, thanks to the arrival of a new treatment unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital’s Sunrise Centre.

The £180,000 investment has been made possible by donations from The Sunrise Appeal, The Friends of the Royal Cornwall Hospital and other legacies and donations to the Sunrise Centre.

The Superficial radiotherapy treatment unit uses low-energy x-rays to destroy unhealthy cells. It is particularly good for treating lesions on or just beneath the surface of the skin and is expected to be used in the treatment of around 100 patients each year.

RCHT consultant oncologists, Dr Toby Talbot and Dr Grant Stewart are leading patient treatment using the superficial treatment unit. Dr Grant Stewart, recently appointed as a consultant specialising in the treatment of skin cancers says:

“Skin cancers are very common in people as they get older, especially living in Cornwall. Superficial Radiotherapy (SRT) has long been used to treat early skin cancer and is proven to cure 95% of cases – the same rate as is cured by surgery. The benefit of SRT is that an operation can be avoided and it can also be used when surgery has not been entirely successful.”

Suppliers of the equipment, Xstrahl, have supported the Sunrise Centre team during the time it has taken to bring together all of the funding needed.  The company has even upgraded elements at no extra cost.

Dr Talbot added “It’s brilliant news that through the Sunrise Appeal, The Friends and donations made by patients and their families to the radiotherapy service, we are again able to offer this alternative form of treatment locally.”

Colin Micklewright, Trustee of the Sunrise Appeal, which contributed £78,000 to the new equipment, said, “This is just the sort of investment the Sunrise Appeal keeps actively fundraising to support. we want Cornwall  to stay in the forefront of developments in radiotherapy treatment and to make sure our population continues to have local access to world-class care.”

Friends of the Royal Cornwall  Hospital Chairman, Beatrice Dyer said, “The Friends were more than happy to make a £40,000 contribution towards this new equipment, as we could see the enormous benefits it would have for patients.”