An ultra modern unit opens at Saint Luke's Hospital in Dublin to help treat cancer patients.

A state of the art cobalt unit and radio-isotope department has opened in St Luke's Cancer Hospital in Dublin, the first of its kind in Ireland.

After many years of planning the £60,000 cobalt and radio isotope department at St Luke's Hospital in Rathgar, Dublin, specialising in treatment for cancer patients, was officially opened by the Minister for Health the Seán MacEntee.

The facilities provided by the new building are now among the best available anywhere in the world, comparable to those found in Britain and the United States of America. The department, the first of its kind in the state, is capable of treating about 25 patients a day.

In the cobalt unit, principal physicist John E O’Connor demonstrates how the machine works. He describes the work of the two radiographers who work from a control desk outside the unit, viewing the patients through a glass window.

In the new unit, more powerful treatment can be given without any of the possible unpleasant side effects associated with the deep X-ray treatments.

In another room, Dr Michael J O’Halloran, senior staff radiotherapist at the hospital, talks about the effect of this cobalt treatment on the patients compared to the effect of the ordinary form of radiation on similar cancer cells.

I would say that the greatest benefit is to the patient in that it saves their skin and it saves their tolerance and they can take their treatment with less side effects to themselves.

Liam Egan, secretary of the hospital board give details of three main projects being undertaken to fund the big fight against cancer.

It is hoped cancer therapy units of this type will eventually help people to overcome their fears of cancer.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 February 1963. The reporter is Sean Egan.