Regional service for rare tumours named centre of excellence

ENETS centre of excellence

A specialist regional service for patients with neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) based at Southampton’s teaching hospitals has been named a centre of excellence by the European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society (ENETS).

The service is made up of clinicians at Southampton General Hospital, the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and the Dorset Cancer Centre who form the Wessex NET Group.

The group brings together experts from oncology, pathology, radiology, nuclear medicine, endocrinology, surgery, gastroenterology and nursing.  

NETs are rare types of cancer which arise from specialised cells that are found throughout the body and form a link between the nervous system, which consists of nerve cells and fibres, and the endocrine system, a collection of glands which produce hormones.

The tumours are usually found in the pancreas, bowel or lungs but can also develop in other parts of the body.

The Wessex NET Group sees more than 100 new patients a year and meets every week at Southampton General Hospital, where decisions about patients’ treatment are made. Patients then receive treatment in a hospital near to home to minimise the impact on work and home life without compromising care.

The Wessex NET Group was formed in 2005 by Neil Pearce and is now led by his colleague Tom Armstrong. Both are surgeons with specialist expertise in NET disease.

The group is supported by patient support group and charity fund PLANETS (, which is linked to Southampton Hospital Charity and fundraises for pancreatic, liver and neuroendocrine tumour patients and services. The charity was co-founded in 2010 by Mr Pearce alongside some of his former patients and colleagues.

Together they have raised almost £500,000, which has helped fund a NETs specialist nurse, a new ultrasound scanner, new specialist cancer treatments and a pancreatic cancer research programme in Southampton.

Mr Pearce, who is now associate medical director for patient safety at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are the first team to be accredited as a multi-site centre of excellence, demonstrating the unparalleled success of the collaboration between the clinical teams on the three sites working together with joint clinics, collective management and shared decision-making.

“This model delivers patient-centred care as close to the patient’s home as possible, while still giving access to the highest level of expertise available and the most modern and effective treatments.

“In addition to our clinical service, the ENETS review team commented that they have never seen such a strong, involved, motivated and effective patient support group as PLANETS, so a big thank you to everyone involved with the group.”

Mr Armstrong added: “Recognition as a centre of excellence reflects years of hard work to deliver the best possible care to patients from across the South of England.”

A team of 55 doctors, nurses, patients and their friends from across the region aim to ride 300km from London to Paris in 24 hours on Friday, 24 June in aid of PLANETS. For more information or to donate, visit

Posted on Monday 18 April 2016