English cancer patients given access to new radiotherapy treatments

In collaboration with Adfero

Cancer patients in England have been given greater access to cutting-edge treatments with the opening of three new radiotherapy centres.

The new centres utilise the latest equipment and technology to target tumours in a precise way that limits damage to healthy tissue and subsequently reduces side-effects for patients undergoing treatment.

All three of the new radiotherapy centres were announced at the 30th anniversary congress of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO).

From this week, patients will be able to receive two hi-tech radiotherapy treatments at Peterborough City Hospital - Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiotherapy (IGRT).

IMRT allows radiotherapy to be delivered across the entire three-dimensional shape of the tumour, making sure the position and intensity of the beams exactly match the tumour. IGRT uses specialised imaging, such as CT scans or ultrasound, to show changes in the size and position of tumours within the body during treatment to ensure that beams are accurately targeted on the tumour at all times.

A satellite centre at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust will also be fully operational by the end of the month, allowing patients access to these and other services.

Dr Jane Barrett, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, chair of the ESTRO National Organising Committee and a consultant at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, said: "Radiotherapy plays a vital part in treating a wide range of cancers and helps to cure around 40 per cent of patients.

"Techniques such as IMRT and IGRT can help to improve outcomes even further due to the highly accurate way treatment is delivered, with the added benefit of improving quality of life for patients thanks to fewer side effects."

The Christie in Manchester is preparing to open its new radiotherapy unit in Salford this July. It will come equipped with two linacs, both of which can deliver IMRT and IGRT. The centre will also boast equipment for stereotactic radiosurgery, a highly specialised surgical technique for tumours in the brain. Currently patients from Greater Manchester have to travel to Sheffield for this treatment.

Professor Tim Maughan, Cancer Research UKs professor of clinical oncology at the Gray Institute for radiation oncology and biology, welcomed the new services: For a number of years, radiotherapy was the 'Cinderella' service among cancer treatments.

The focus was all around cancer drugs, despite the fact radiotherapy cures more people. It's great news that investment in this effective form of treatment is regaining momentum. These new centres will bring enormous benefits to people with cancer across England.