A £110m cancer research centre is planned for Headington to study pioneering treatment with hundreds of county patients.

Oxford University yesterday announced the Precision Cancer Medicine Institute, planned for a 2017 or 2018 opening.

It will study drug, surgery and radiation therapy in 400 to 450 patients a year with hard-to-treat early stage diseases like lung and oesophageal cancer.

The aim is for less invasive treatments and treatments that are better tailored to each person.

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Cholsey lung cancer patient Ian Spackman, 57, welcomed the news.

Mr Spackman — who was diagnosed in 2012 and is on a course of drugs — said: “It can be difficult to treat, you never know if you are going to get clear of it. It is brilliant news.”

A new building will be built at the university’s Old Road Campus or neighbouring Churchill Hospital. An exact location has not been chosen, but it will house about 200 workers with “dozens” of new roles.

Patients will be referred from NHS doctors and work will include evaluating the benefits of proton beam therapy for non-NHS funded cancers.

The therapy hit headlines in August when police sought the parents of Ashya King, five, after they took him from a Southampton hospital to have the therapy abroad.

Other research will also include the study of DNA and genetics and cancer imaging.

Universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark visited the Old Road Campus yesterday and said: “This is a paradigm shifting moment, we hope, for research around the world.”

He said: “We are leading the world in the research in an area that has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of cancer.”

Speaking as NHS leaders warned of a £30bn gap in the £100bn-a-year service by 2020, he said: “If people are cured of cancer then this saves the cost of treating them and managing the condition when they have it.”

Early-stage cancer patients will test treatments between standard NHS care like chemotherapy and surgery.

University head of the Department of Oncology Prof Gillies McKenna said: “Through the new institute we aim to undertake research that will help doctors get the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time.”

Cancer Research UK chief clinician Prof Peter Johnson said the project was a “great example” of a move to more personalised cancer care.

The project has been awarded £35m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England with the rest from Cancer Research UK, the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute and six healthcare firms.

Proton beam therapy fires a narrow high energy beam of protons meaning healthy tissue is damaged less than conventional X-rays.

About 400 people, mostly children, are sent for treatment abroad each year.

It is planned that treatment centres will be opening in London and Manchester in 2018.

Calls on government to 'cross disease out'

CANCER Research UK yesterday called on the Government to “Cross Cancer Out’’.
It launched a campaign calling for earlier diagnosis, equal access to treatment and public awareness about the condition.

About 41 people per 100,000 get the condition in Oxfordshire compared to about an average of 48 in England.

A particular concern is lung cancer, the charity said, with fears older people are being “overlooked” for surgery.

South East spokesman Lynn Daly said: “The earlier patients can be diagnosed and access the appropriate treatments they need, the more lives will be saved.

“So the Government will need to make both of these key priorities if it is serious about improving survival rates across
all types of cancer.”

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