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New Royal Free Hospital Scanner Makes Faster Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer patients in north London are to be the first in the UK to benefit from a revolutionary £8 million scanner is faster, more accurate and safer than those currently in use.

The Royal Free Hospital’s new ‘positron emission tomography’ scanner is 30 times more powerful than standard machines and makes more sensitive examinations in just five minutes instead of half-an-hour.

Patients are exposed to far less radiation, which also means treatment starts sooner.

“They get diagnoses much quicker,” the Royal Free’s specialties director Roopinder Gillmore explained. “Oncologists also get much more detailed information about tumours, which allows more effective treatment.”

Three dimensional pictures are created when patients are given a mildly-radioactive glucose solution, which lights up in the scan so that doctors can see how a tumour is functioning to work out the best treatment.

The scanner being installed by the Royal Free London NHS trust, which serves Hampstead, Barnet and Enfield, will be operational in early spring.

It will help deal with one of the highest rates of ‘late cancer’ diagnosis among developed nations, with the demand for cancer care in north London predicted to surge in coming years.

Royal Free London’s chief executive Peter Landstrom said: “By 2040 one person every minute will be diagnosed with cancer. That means more and more patients being treated who will need NHS care.”

The Royal Free Charity secured funds for the scanner from the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Biss Davies Charitable Trust otherwise not available to the NHS.