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1 July 2020

Celebrating 50 years of excellence in cancer care and research in Sheffield and beyond

Weston Park Cancer Centre is celebrating 50 years of caring for cancer patients in the region.

Fifty years ago Weston Park Cancer Hospital, as it was then known, was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne on 1 July 1970. The opening of the Centre marked a milestone in the development of specialist cancer services both nationally and internationally, and Weston Park has been at the forefront of cancer treatment and research ever since.

Bringing together the pioneering spirit of its predecessors and a national reputation for radiotherapy for which Sheffield was renowned, Weston Park has provided high quality, personalise cared for thousands of patients and their families at some of the most difficult moments of their lives.

Weston Pak has always played a vital role in spearheading advances in cancer treatment, and improvements in radiotherapy equipment, purpose-built day care facilities and the cancer clinical trials centre have all kept Sheffield in the premiere league of cancer centres across the country.

In 1995, the Centre was one of the first in the UK to start using CT in radiotherapy to ensure greater accuracy of identification of the position of tumours. Researchers have gone on to help bring many treatments to routine care through clinical trials, including a bone strengthening drug that is now used for all women undergoing treatment of postmenopausal breast cancer. This treatment, which is part of NICE approved routine care, is estimated to be saving around 1,000 lives per year.

Over the years, there have been many significant changes in care, including the development of the Cancer Clinical Trials Unit in 1999, which has helped 16,000 patients get involved in life-changing cancer research, improving care for patients in Sheffield and beyond; the opening of the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in 2002, one of the first in the country to specialise in the care of young people with cancer; and the refurbishment of the inpatient wards in 2017 to provide modern, 21st century facilities to patients who have to stay in hospital for their treatment and care.

Dr Jackie Martin, Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Clinical Director for Specialist Cancer Services at Weston Park Cancer Centre, said: “Weston Park Cancer Centre is one of only four specialist cancer centres in the country. We are justly proud of our excellent reputation in providing high quality care to our patients and those who care for them. We are delighted to be celebrating 50 years of excellence in cancer care and research and would like to thank our amazing staff and inspirational patients as well as our amazing Weston Park Cancer Charity and colleagues from the University of Sheffield who are critical to the ongoing delivery of exceptional clinical care and research as we mark this important milestone.”


The origins of Weston Park Cancer Centre date back to the early 20th century when a public appeal was made for donations to a X-ray set, containing planning rooms, office, waiting rooms and a lecture. The appeal was a success – and the early foundations of a specialist Sheffield cancer centre were laid.

Today the Centre continues to provide leading cancer care and treatment, caring for 20,107 patients in 2019/20 and employing 600 staff across eight different staff groups, with over 100 different roles.

In the past year 1,900 patients participated in pioneering clinical trials, with 1,300 clinical trials being delivered since the early 1990s.

The Centre also runs many specialist services, including the Sheffield Trophoblastic Disease Centre, which is one of only two treatment centres of its kind in the UK and treats rare pregnancy related disorders arising from the placenta from pre-cancerous to cancerous conditions, and the award-winning Late Effects Clinic which cares for patients living with and beyond cancer in an era of improving survival rates.

The early pioneering spirit of the Centre, which was the first in the UK to use a Van der Graff generator, a precursor to modern radiotherapy machines, to treat cancer continues today, with patients benefiting from state-of-the-art technology, including seven linear accelerators to deliver therapeutic radiation to precisely destroy cancerous tumours and 4D treatment planning which enables the treatment to be adjusted to take account of a patient’s breathing motion.

Photo: Staff at Weston Park Cancer Centre celebrate the golden anniversary.
Left to right: Kirsten Major (Chief Executive, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), Lindsay Smith (Nurse), Farah Shoaib (Radiographer), Carol Elrick (Receptionist), Dr Jackie Martin (Consultant Clinical Oncologist and Clinical Director, Weston Park Cancer Centre), Mick Crossland (Porter) and Sam Dixon (Director, Weston Park Cancer Charity). Photo courtesy Sheffield Star

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