AN INTERIM radiotherapy unit at Basingstoke hospital is taking shape.

Builders and tradesmen have been working long hours on the unit, with work being carried out between 8am and 11pm, to ensure that the building is ready to open to patients in April.

As previously reported in The Gazette, the £5million radiotherapy unit will be open at the hospital, in Aldermaston Road, for around two years while a new cancer centre is being built in a north Hampshire location yet to be confirmed.

The sophisticated radiotherapy equipment in the interim unit will be transferred to the new cancer centre when it opens. The building, opposite The Ark Conference Centre, will continue to be used by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Last month, a £2million state-of-the-art linear accelerator – the machine used in the delivery of radiotherapy – was delivered to the unit, and a CT scanner, which has been funded by the North Hampshire Medical Fund, will be delivered in the next few weeks.

Cancer patients visiting the unit will first have a CT scan to determine the precise location and size of a tumour.

A team of physicists will then calculate where the radiotherapy needs to be aimed by the linear accelerator to precisely target the cancer – something which will be different for each patient.

Radiotherapy patients need the treatment for up to six weeks, and the opening of this interim unit will be a relief for many who currently have to travel to either Southampton or Guildford.

The interim unit will primarily treat those with breast, lung and prostate cancers, and it is anticipated that more than 500 patients will be treated at the unit each year.

Dr Lara Alloway, who is one of the key figures involved in the project, said it is at an exciting stage.

The lead clinician of the palliative care service and associate medical director at HHFT, told The Gazette: “This will make a huge difference to patients who would otherwise have to travel long distances to receive radiotherapy.

“The equipment that we have is really top-of-the-range, and we will be able to carry out around 8,000 treatments each year.

“The whole building is designed with the patients in mind and we have gardens, large changing rooms, and plenty of car parking spaces – something which can be an issue for patients.”

The location of the state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre is expected to be on land between the M3, A303 and A34.

The main centre, which will cost £13million, should open in 2016 and The Ark Cancer Centre Charity is trying to raise £5million towards the project.

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