Page last updated at 18:14 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 19:14 UK

Surgery survival better in Devon

Cancer protest in Truro
Protesters are concerned about effects on services

Cancer groups in Cornwall are fighting the potential transfer of some specialist cancer surgery to Devon.

Opponents want services improved at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro rather than centralised in Plymouth.

However, statistics seen by BBC News, show survival rates for some types of cancer surgery are more than double at Plymouth's Derriford Hospital in Devon.

Cornwall Primary Care Trust (PCT) said it would listen to patients' views before any final decisions were made.

The PCT wants to move head and neck cancer treatments, upper gastro-intestinal surgery and complex gynaecological cancer services from the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro to Derriford.

Figures show that death rates for patients with cancer of the oesophagus at Derriford are 3.2% over a two year period compared with 7.4% at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

Having cancer is devastating enough
Maggie Easterbrook, cancer patient

Health chiefs said making use of specialist cancer centres such as Derriford for rare tumours which required complex operations would increase the life expectancy of patients.

But protesters said that if surgery was transferred elsewhere, it could mean some patients and relatives would have to travel hundreds of miles.

Patient Maggie Easterbrook said: "If you have to travel all the way there for treatment, your family can't just visit and come back in a day.

"You're isolated and having cancer is devastating enough."

Evidence examined

PCT chief executive Ann James said the trust would be discussing the proposals with the public.

She said: "I think what's important at this stage is that the public have all of the facts, and that they're presented in a very objective way, but also that we also take on the concerns from people.

"Quite often their concerns, understandably, are about travelling and being away from their loved ones when they are having their surgery.

"Now we may need to do a little bit more to ensure they get the surgery they need, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the evidence for centralising services is wrong."

Call for cancer surgery rethink
21 Mar 08 |  Cornwall

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