Large regional cancer centre opens in Cork


MINISTER FOR Health Mary Harney yesterday officially opened the largest breast cancer treatment centre in the country at Cork University Hospital and insisted it was the right decision to centralise breast cancer services in the south there, despite opposition.

The Regional Cancer Centre South at CUH is the last of the designated eight cancer treatment centres identified in the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) to open and will see over 10,000 patients annually. However the decision to locate the centre at CUH caused controversy in Cork as the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital had been treating more breast cancer patients and had been selected as the host hospital for BreastCheck just two years ago.

However, Harney said the right decision had been made in deciding to transfer breast cancer services from SIVUH to the new regional centre which is expected to diagnose some 520 patients annually with breast cancer. “We will have five breast surgeons, seven radiologists and five pathologists working here – so there will be enormous experience and expertise here,” said Harney.

“And we know from international evidence that unless you are treating high volumes of patients, you don’t get the best outcome that a woman is entitled to expect – you need to have a minimum of 150 new patients and clearly you can’t do that in every hospital.

“That’s why we moved from having 33 hospitals to eight centres. A woman’s chances are improved by about 25 per cent when you move to larger centres – one woman in four that would otherwise die will survive if treated in a centre with a high volume of activity.”

Harney said that the decision to locate the BreastCheck facility at SIVUH two years ago was not bad planning and stressed that there was no plan to transfer the BreastCheck facility to CUH to be near the new cancer centre.

The amalgamation of breast cancer services from CUH, SIVUH, the Mercy University Hospital and Kerry General Hospital was completed on December 1st and the new centre is seeing all urgent patients within two weeks.