Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Gynaecological cancer unit plan

Some cancer services are already moving out of Cornwall

Independent experts are to recommend whether a second specialist centre for gynaecological cancer for Cornwall and Devon should be in Truro or Plymouth.

Health managers are considering a new centre as part of moves to concentrate services at centres of excellence.

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in Devon is to remain as a specialist centre for gynaecological cancer.

A recommendation for the new centre's location is likely to be announced within a fortnight.

Travel concerns

The Department of Health said concentrating surgery in a specialist centre of excellence dramatically improved a patient's chance of survival and cure.

The new centre will be based at either Derriford Hospital in Plymouth or the Royal Cornwall in Truro.

Operations for some cervical and womb cancers could still be done in the hospital that does not get specialist status, and all patients could still have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and outpatient appointments locally.

But some women will have to travel for operations and patients and patient support groups in Cornwall have said they do not want services to be moved out of the county.

Patient 'dread'

Campaigners fought plans to stop surgery for upper gastro-intestinal cancer surgery being moved away.

However, it is to move in Plymouth next year following advice by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust (PCT) that it would improve survival rates.

Jeannette Preston, a registered nurse who founded the charity Pants Matters, which raises awareness of certain types of cancer, said patients dreaded the prospect of having to travel for surgery when services in Truro were of a high standard.

She said: "Women in Cornwall will feel already that they are getting the best and would prefer not to have to move away to from what they feel is their centre, their local facility."

A consultation will be under-taken as part of the process, with patients, local councillors and others being asked for their views before a final decision is made.

It will begin after the experts' review has been published.

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