Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 18:24 UK

Duchess opens teenage cancer unit in Newcastle

The Duchess of York at the teenage cancer unit
The Duchess of York is patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust

A specialist cancer unit for teenage patients has been opened by the Duchess of York in Newcastle.

Sarah Ferguson's daughters Eugenie and Beatrice also visited the unit at the city's Great North Children's Hospital.

It is the result of a £1.7m charity effort and replaces the existing centre which opened in 1998.

The duchess, who was joined for the opening by X Factor winner Joe McElderry, has been a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust for 20 years.

The unit includes 10 in-patient beds and will provide a "home-from-home" for patients aged between 13 and 18.

'Expert care'

Sarah, Duchess of York, said: "I am so proud to be here to open the 15th Teenage Cancer Trust unit.

"As a parent to two young and fortunately healthy girls, this charity has a particular place in my heart.

"Over the past 20 years I have seen how important these specialist units are to a young person going through cancer treatment."

Simon Davies, chief executive of the trust, said: "Teenage patients face different challenges.

"They're at a time when their bodies are changing so they need expert treatment and care.

"Specialist nursing nurses and doctors are critical. We've also created an 'un-institutionalised' environment where young people can socialise, have access to computers and their friends can visit easily."

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