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PET project transforms cancer scanning in Wales

16 September 2010

Welsh cancer patients are set to benefit from a new high-resolution scanning centre which can track malignant tissue in incredible detail.

The multi-million pound Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Imaging Centre has gone operational in Cardiff. It offers doctors the chance to pinpoint the exact location of tumours in patients and to assess how fast they are growing.

The new facility is one of the most advanced in the UK. Previously, Welsh patients had to travel to Cheltenham, or further afield, for PET scans. The new all-Wales PET Centre will improve the service for hundreds of patients across the nation every year.

The scanner can detect tumours when they are just a few millimetres in size. In addition, it can also show how active the tumours are and allow doctors to decide on the most appropriate treatment for patients. It will also allow doctors to track patients’ progress during therapy and has the ability to determine if patients are responding the therapy much earlier than existing techniques. This will allow the patient’s management to be changed to a different therapy at a much earlier stage if the treatment is not working.

The Centre is operated by Cardiff University in partnership with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in specially-built premises at Cardiff’s Heath Park complex. The £16.5 million Centre was funded jointly by the Welsh Assembly Government’s Health and Economy and Transport Departments and the £1.8M state-of-the-art scanner built by international technology company GE. A £1M highly advanced cyclotron will also allow the development of new pharmaceuticals.

Cardiff University scientists will also be using the Centre to produce and test new drugs and tracing agents. PET will allow them to track exactly how drugs work in the body and develop new scanning techniques. Research will concentrate on cancer, heart diseases and brain diseases such as dementia. For example, PET will be used to try and improve the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment planning as well as assist in the translation of new drugs into routine clinical use. As a result of these research projects, a number of companies are keen to work in partnership with the University.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said: "The new PET scanner will provide far more detail, helping health professionals to provide a more effective and quicker diagnosis, which will ultimately lead to better outcomes for patients.

"It will also be used to build on the research that is carried out in Wales so we can learn more about these diseases and further develop treatments."

Commenting on the research capability of the new PET centre Deputy Minister for Science, Skills & Innovation, Lesley Griffiths, said: "This demonstrates the commitment of the Welsh Assembly Government to investing in research and development as we recognise the potential that it will have both in terms of health and research.

"By working with multi-national companies we’re confident that the PET centre will raise the profile of Wales as a place to partner in research."

Professor Paul Morgan, Dean of Cardiff School of Medicine, said: "The PET scanner really does put Cardiff University in the international forefront of medical imaging technology. We already have world-class MRI and MEG imaging facilities and the PET Imaging Centre increases our capacity for cutting-edge research with our partners at the Health Board and with other universities and businesses internationally. We expect PET to help transform our understanding of a large number of diseases and to play a part in the development of effective new treatments."

Kesh Baboolal, Director of Acute University Hospital Services, said: "Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, along with its partners at the Welsh Assembly Government and the University, is committed to providing the best possible facilities for patients. The new PET scanner will mean they will have access to cutting edge technology right here on their doorstep.

"In the past patients have had to go across the border to Cheltenham, or even as far as London, to have this scan. But now patients from Cardiff, and across Wales, will be able to benefit from one of the most advanced diagnostic tools in the UK.

"The PET scanner will make a huge difference to how we diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. It will help us to identify and track what is wrong with a patient much more accurately and tailor treatments specifically to their needs making them much more efficient. This investment in patient care will be a potent weapon for the health board and help us fight and defeat disease and hopefully save many, many lives."

One of the first patients to be scanned, Ceinwen Stone, aged 20, said: "It is a lot better having the scanning facility here on the doorstep in Cardiff. It means you don’t have to travel and you with hospital staff who you know. The scanner also gives a lot more detail, so the doctors will know if things have cleared up, or got worse, and how to treat me accordingly."


For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Stephen Rouse,
Public Relations Office,
Cardiff University.
029 2087 5596



Chris Davies
Senior Journalist/ Uwch Newyddiadurwr
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board / Bwrdd Iechyd Prifysgol Caerdydd a'r Fro
Phone / Ffôn: 029 20 746381
Email / E-bost:

Website / Gwefan:

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.
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Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board provides health services for over 445,000 people living in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. It also serves a wider population across South and Mid Wales for specialties such as paediatric intensive care, specialist children's services, renal services, cardiac services, neurology, bone marrow transplantation and medical genetics.

It provides healthcare in people’s own homes, community clinics, and hospitals, for outpatient, inpatient and emergency care. The health board manages nine hospitals and seventeen health centres, and also provides services in health centres run by our NHS partner organisations both within Cardiff and the Vale and beyond, in Caerphilly and Merthyr for example. We are also responsible for the delivery of NHS primary care services in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, including general practitioners, community pharmacists, dentists and optometrists.