Page last updated at 18:32 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Cancer hospital appeals for 15m

Young patients at the Sutton unit
The current facilities cannot cope with the number of patients

A top children's hospital has launched an appeal to raise 15m to build a new cancer centre in south-west London.

The Royal Marsden Hospital said the new state-of-the-art centre in Sutton will test new anti-cancer treatments for children and teenagers.

The hospital said the unit will also double inpatient and day capacity, adding to existing facilities.

The Children's and Teenage Cancer Centre in Sutton is expected to open in 2010, the hospital said.

Less capacity

Patient Rachel Belshaw, 13, said: "I think it will help lots of children like me feel more homely while they are having treatment and give us more space to chill out."

The current unit was opened in 1993 but since then the need to upgrade and patient numbers have increased.

Claudia Blandford, mother of a four-year-old patient Christian, said: "This is certainly where I want to spend all the time with Christian whenever he was ill, I didn't want to go anywhere else.

"But there were times when they couldn't fit you in and you become so attached here that to go somewhere else is heartbreaking."

Professor Andy Pearson, who heads the Clinical Unit, said: "Over the last decade the overall cure rate for children with cancer has risen to 75% but unfortunately advances beyond this have reached a plateau.

"We plan to challenge this and improve the lives of every single child and teenager affected by cancer."

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